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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Roseites and the Charismatic Gifts

I have been dismayed to discover the existence, in Orthodox circles, of disciples of Father Seraphim Rose, or "Roseites". Roseites are those who, don't just revere Rose's writings, but consider his writings to be Orthodox Dogma. In the body of orthodox writings, Father Seraphim Rose was a profound contributor, however, caution should be taken by those who would trend toward allowing Rose, or any personally-preferred saint, to be the plumb line of their Christian experience. Apostle Paul warned about this very thing:

1 Corinthians 1
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Divisions come when these Roseites, who have fallen prey to a version of saint worship, demand that others follow suit and become like them. These demands come in the form of public and private denouncements, and judgements of the spiritual state of others. These Roseites are the creators of contentions and divisions among us.

This is of particular note in light of Father Seraphim Rose's controversial writings on the subject of charismatics. The controversy comes not in Rose's appropriately-issued warnings about the demonic nature of much of the modern-day Charismatic Movement, but in Father Seraphim Rose's propensity to disavow, or at least avoid, any supernatural gifts of the faith. This is the proverbial "throwing the baby out with the bathwater". It is the imbalanced error of pusillanimity, where one so fears the bad, that he misses the good. The Roseites have taken this a step further. Some Roseite-leaning "orthodox" blogs, have taken to denouncing, by name, individuals and groups who are coming into the Church from charismatic backgrounds. These Roseites even become internet trolls, going from site to site, chat room to chat room, sending accusatory e-mails, making phone calls, tattling to priests and bishops, arguing, denouncing, and causing dissension, even with brothers and sisters in their own jurisdictions. Without any shred of evidence as to current heretical activity, these Roseites assume that such converts are not truly converted, or have "incomplete salvation", or are demonized, satanic agents bent on destroying the church. They hold as suspect, and deem as enemies, anyone who dares use the scriptural word, "charisma", and who promotes the scriptural and traditional orthodox dogma that ALL of the gifts of the spirit are still in the church. They fail to consider that, perhaps, one who has been led by the grace of God through the maze of the Charismatic Movement and into true Orthodox Faith through enlightenment, repentance, and baptism, just might have a more balanced grasp on what is, and is not to be trusted in the supernatural realm. It seems the Church as a whole could benefit from such converts.

One writer, on Wikipedia, gives clarity with a good historic picture of the problem with Roseites:
  
"More recently, Holy Fathers have parted with the Apostle Paul's teaching to "desire earnestly spiritual gifts" and discouraged desiring spiritual gifts because of fear of falling into "prelest" a condition where real spiritual gifts are counterfeited. They advise, To avoid "prelest" spiritual accountability of a priest or abbot. Fr. Seraphim was cured from this condition by his spiritual father, the blessed St. John Maximovitch; as a priest and monk himself, he had people under this condition come to his monastery for guidance and prayer. Despite, witnessing real miracles in his friend St. John Maximovitch's life, Fr. Seraphim Rose, did no miraculous deeds (that we are aware of) and discouraged the pursuit of Charismatic gifts at all. Though he made many great contributions to Orthodoxy in both founding a monastery and publishing many books, arguably Fr. Seraphim taught "The heresy of pusillanimity which proposes that since we are not living in the time of the apostles, and are not in the immediate physical presence of the Saviour, it is impossible for us to become holy in the way the apostles were holy." In his lecture, Living the Orthodox Worldview, Fr. Seraphim taught that we can't even approach the saints of old or even regular Orthodox Christians from 100 years ago. Sadly, this belief produced its result with Fr. Seraphim living a life void of the supernatural miracles that followed his friend St. John Maximovitch along with other factors causing him to reject the Charismatic movement. St. John Maximovitch like many non-orthodox charismatics advocated friendship with the Holy Spirit and taught this even to small children(see Illumined Heart podcast series on St. John). This friendship with the Holy Spirit, visible in the lives of St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Symeon the New Theologian, and in the life of St. John Maximovitch produces all true miracles and is the heart of the charismatic renewal within and outside of Eastern Orthodoxy"

The tragedy for the Roseites is that they mirror their preferred saint's life, in that, they are "living a life void of the supernatural miracles", or void of even one of the spiritual gifts through which they may minister in the dynamous power. It is one thing, however, for the Roseites to choose for themselves, to live a life void of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, it is another for them to have, as their mission, the denouncement and even, in some cases, the personal and often public destruction of the faithful orthodox believers who refuse to limit the workings of the Holy Spirit among us. I ask you: Who is the greater danger to the Body of Christ, those who live and attack out of fear, or those who live and act out of faith?

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?"

Here is what the Church says about the Charismatic Gifts:

1 Corinthians 12
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. [No matter what the Roseites say]
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many. [Roseites take note!]
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

...and the more excellent way is to LOVE.  

Roseites: Be of Christ and let HIM increase. Let your favorite saint, Father Seraphim Rose, decrease. The Body of Christ is charismatic. If it is not, then it is dead, and not the Body of Christ at all.

8 comments:

  1. Nathan,
    This is a good article. Thanks!
    Diana Bales

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  2. I think, perhaps, the problem arises when people automatically assume 'charismatic' means shouting, jumping, rolling around in the isles type stuff, that is, American Pentecostalism. However, perhaps, if people were explained that 'charismatic' can mean gifts of the Holy Ghost, like the ones many elders, and devout people have been given throughout the centuries. Saints for centuries could discern the thoughts of many, raise men from the dead, perform mighty miracles, calm storms, etc. I can't think of the names now, but, I remember reading the account of one Greek elder who had the capacity to speak and understand any language he heard, and thus, didn't need a translator when hearing confessions of others.
    I've known people who were abbots of monasteries who did know old time Russian monks who were the examples of Christian Orthodoxy, and combined that with genuine spiritual gifts that many thought were extinct.
    Just because something is in short supply, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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  3. Thank you for the truth!

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  4. Maybe we tend to get what we expect. May it be done to you according to your faith was one of our Lord's favorite expressions in pronouncing healing. Shouldn't our expectation be that when we enter an Orthodox temple that the Holy Trinity will be powerfully present working in ways beyond human comprehension? Shouldn't it at least be our desire that when we touch the robe of our priest that he would feel spiritual power flowing out of him into us? Shouldn't we expect during confession prophetic revelation of hidden sins that we are too proud to confess? I know I do. It seems to me the motivation to not receive these things is the fear of being associated with groups who practice them wrongly. However, this is sin. We should be motivated by faith not fear. Even the fear of losing our reputation. It's very intriguing to me that St Paul in dealing with the Corinthian mess never once doubted the spiritual reality of what the church was experiencing. He simply set proper guidelines for its use. He even told these folks to zealously desire spiritual gifts but they must function in the context of love. I fear that due to fear we are settling for less than God would have for us. And anything less, well really is less.

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    Replies
    1. Chris! Now this is Orthodox!

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    2. Chris, I see we live in the same area. Coffee?

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  5. Charismatic people are everywhere. Yet, they never seem to focus on their charisma. It’s easy to identify a charismatic person. They are cumulatively observant and sensitive to human nature. In fact, rather than egotism, their charisma is a matter of a finely honed spirit and ability to fearlessly tread when others dare not go

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  6. Anonymous2:35 PM

    So, Fr. Seraphim Rose was the John MacArthur of Orthodoxy?

    ReplyDelete

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