Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Comment From "An Antiochian Who Wears Black"

A JTO reader sent me the link below which has an apparently authentic first hand assessment of the recent Bishop demotion from "an Antiochian who wears black" (AWWB). The assumption is that this AWWB is a deacon or a priest. Since the Metropolitan is still continuing his crypticism, such information from the ranks of the clergy is helpful. I received a harsh comment from a JTO reader (which I didn't post because of reader's slang usage of the word "God") presumably relating my posts concerning the Metropolitan's actions as that of a Baptist deacon talking to his pastor. While I must apologize to good Baptist deacons everywhere, I must also remind the reader and others that the submission we have to those who "rule over us" does not include the idea that the Laity are to shut up, chill out and not ask questions. All need to be reminded that the Laity are the Fourth Order Of The Priesthood, and that Orthodoxy is not Papist but ordered by consensus. When one man, one church, one emperor strays from the canons, doctrines or scriptures, all righteous everywhere must speak. To the accusing reader: Anthanasius was a deacon when he grabbed the reigns of the emperor's horse.

Click Here to read the AWWB's comments.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Frog In Boiling Water

(From Orthodox Prophets)

Now, being in the bosom of the Church, I am discovering things from this vantage that perplex me. The state of the Church as a whole, the apostasy from Dogma, Canons and Scripture coming from the hierarchy of most major Orthodox jurisdictions is alarming and can send one into despair. When one becomes convinced that it is happening it is not difficult to admire groups like ROAC who tenaciously adhered to that which was handed down. They fight Ecumenism and Sergianism and are being persecuted, tortured, physically attacked by the state-created, state-owned Moscow Patriarchate with which they refused to commune while all of the members of SCOBA participate by their silence. Groups like ROAC have been called "schismatic". Is it accurate to consider the smaller group the schismatics if it is the larger group that is apostatizing? ROCOR is the group that went against their 60-80 year condemnation and anathema of the Moscow Patriarchate as heretical, to join with them, selling their birthright for a mess of pottage. ROAC, groups like them and the ROCOR in Russian refused to...and they are accused of being schismatic. Why? Because they will not submit to the Moscow Patriarchate who was established by Joseph Stalin, still is controlled and infiltrated by former KGB, was responsible for the genocide of millions of our Orthodox Brothers and is led now by a multi-billionaire "Patriarch" who amassed his great wealth by cooperation with an atheistic state by the import of alcohol and tobacco? Once one does research on the history of the Moscow Patriarchate, it becomes clear as to whom has broken from true Orthodoxy. It is certainly not the faithful Bishops of ROAC and others in Russia and abroad who are having their lives, lands, churches, stripped from them by violence at the hands of the apostate church. These discoveries in my Journey To Orthodoxy cause me to question my own communion with any part of the church who communes or endorses such.

I have also been perplexed to find the level of compromise and apostasy from the patriarchs as they continue to create a World Orthodox Church by melding it into the World Council of Churches (WCC) reshaping the Orthodox Church to conform with the world's view of spiritual harmony.
Also alarming is the level of collusion on the part of local priests who remain in league with such heretical hierarchs and do not warn their parishioners.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!"

What of the sincere parishioners who have no knowledge of where their apostate hierarchs and priests are leading them? One has likened it to a frog in a pot of water on a stove. As the water heats up, the frog will simply adjust to the temperature until he is boiled to death. We are not frogs and Christ's exhortation to follow truth and to abhor heresy and apostasy should cause us to jump out of the pot as soon as we see the flame.

" Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own consciences seared with a hot iron."

Here is evidence that the flame is nearing the boiling point and the iron is heating up:
Take the quiz: WHO SAID...
It is "the fundamental ecclesiological truth" that Orthodoxy and Papism "constitute the two lungs of the Body of Christ"
2. "Our Churches are recognized mutually as Sister Churches, responsible together for the preservation of the One Church of Go
d...We exhort our faithful. Catholic and Orthodox to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood, which derives from a single Baptism and participation in the sacramental life."
3. "We do not hold that exclusivity means judgment or exclusion. The idea that membership in a visible Church organization is requisite for membership in heaven is based on a false paradigm--that we somehow parallel the kingdom of God in this world. The kingdom is not an exterior reality, rather it is interior, at least until the end of time. "
4. "
We remind all that every form of proselytism... is absolutely condemned by the Orth
odox. Proselytism, practiced in nations already Christian, and in many cases even Orthodox,...poisons the relations among Christians and destroys the road to their unity. "
5. "[W]e now
clearly realize and understand that our two families [Orthodox and Monophysites] have always loyally guarded the same and authentic Christological Orthodox faith, and have maintained uninterrupted the apostolic tradition although they may have used the Christological terms in a different manner. It is that common faith and that continual loyalty to the apostolic tradition which must be the basis of our unity and communion... The two families accept that all the anathemas and the condemnations of the past which kept us divided must be lifted by the Churches so that the last obstacle to full unity and communion of our two families can be removed by the grace and the power of God. The two families accept that the lifting of the anathemas and the condemnations will be based on the fact that the Councils and the fathers previously anathematized or condemned were not heretics...."
6. "We respe
ct an individual's choice with regard to his or her faith, and we do not proselytize anyone, nor do we participate in dialogues between Christians and our brother Muslims in order to convince them to accept our own faith."
7. "If the diverse peoples of a culture look to the memories of their faith traditions, whatever they may be, they will be sustained,
they will be fed the food of God's spiritual knowledge...Orthodox Christian and modernist, Protestant and modernist, Jew and modernist, Catholic and modernist: however we worship, as long as we abide in our faith and unite it to our works in the world, we bring the living and always timely message of Divine Wisdom into the modern world."
8. (To Zoroastrians, Hindus, etc.) "
We are united in the spirit [sic] of the one God, 'Creator of all things, visible and invisibl
e' ... we are convinced that there is more that unites the community of man, than divides us ".
9. "
ers and sisters, the watchword of the Holy Orthodox Church today is unity. We are learning unity within our own house; we must pursue unity with all the children of God... Roman Catholics and Orthodox, Protestants and Jews, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and Confucians: the time has come not only for rapprochement, but also for an alliance and joint effort... We have within our grasp the vision of the Psalmist: "Behold, how good and how pleasing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" We pledge to you today that the Orthodox Christian Church will do everything in her power to fulfill that vision. "
10. "
The Orthodox Church does not seek to convince others of any one particular understanding of truth or revelation, nor does it seek to convert others to a particular mode of thinking...Whenever human beings react to the perspectives and beliefs of others on the basi
s of fear and self-righteousness, they violate the God-given right and freedom of others to come to know God and one another in the manner inherent to their identity as peoples...Such xenophobic tendencies are chiefly the result of being out of communion with God...When human beings are in communion with God, who Himself is the very essence of inexhaustible love, xenophobia-- fear of the other--is not possible since human beings do not see each other as strangers, but rather as brothers and sisters in communion with the loving Lord. "

Who said
these things?


Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church said all of these things
in various speeches and in his leadership role in the World Council of Churches * (WCC). His predecessor Patriarch of Constantinople even said this:
"We are deceived and we sin, if we think that the
Orthodox faith came down from Heaven and that all [other] creeds are unworthy. Three hundred million people have chosen Islam in order to reach their god, and other hundreds of millions are Protestants, Catholics, and Buddhists. The goal of every religion is to improve mankind."

What did Jesus mean when He said,

"I am THE way, THE Truth and THE Life, and no man
to the Father except He comes by Me."?

According to the Patriarch and the WCC, Jesus said,

"I am A way, A truth and A life and everyone can
come to the Father through me and a few other directions."

What did Jesus mean when he said,

"All authority has been given to ME in heaven and on Earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..."?

According to the Patriarch and the WCC, Jesus said,

"Quite a bit of authority has been give to me so go and be in loving communion with other religions being careful not to proselyte them to me for their way is just as good as any, after all we don't want to offend."

ALL member Churches represented in SCOBA do follow this heresy and apostasy to their own destruction and the destruction of the flocks they shepherd.

Another former Patriarch of Constantinople seemed to understand this:

"We know that salvation itself is a property of the One Church, and that no one can be outside of the catholic [small c] Church and yet share the Faith of Christ, or be saved...Neither do we offer any part of that hope to the ungodly heretics, but we place them entirely outside of that hope; indeed, they have not the least participation in Christ, but vainly assume for themselves that saving Name."-St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (4th Century AD)

Remember Saint Chrysostom's words as you participate in His Liturgy this Sunday. If your Priest, Bishop, or Patriarch is a member of the World Council of Churches or condones such by his action or inaction, thus promoting a gospel that is not of Christ and His Apostles, then depose them or flee from them.

Remember these words:

" Do not be unequally yoked together with unb
elievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

'I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.'


'Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean. And I will receive you."

" I will be a Father to you
And you shall be My sons and
Says the Lord Almighty."

So take note of the links of the Orthodox Churches on the JTO site, who refuse to participate in the great apostasy and heresy that is Ecumenism and The World Council of Churches. Contact these Orthodox communions to see how you might enter their community of believers.

Otherwise the icon you venerate will look something like this:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Pope Repents and Becomes Orthodox! A Fictional Account

It started in the 60's when the Pope began to ask forgiveness for various "sins" of antiquity. Interestingly enough this new found repentance started about the same time as the Roman Catholic promotion of Ecumenism. If only the Papal confession included sins of heresy, the confessions might be less suspect. Here is a suggested list of real sins the current Pope might consider confessing:

A Fiction Account of Repentance:
“I, Pope John-Paul, would like to ask the forgiveness of the whole world for spreading my evil and destructive doctrine, which is called Roman Catholicism.
“Among the heresies I would like to renounce is the heresy of the Filioque, which destroys the theological understanding of the Trinity. I would also like to renounce the following heresies:
“our diabolical teaching on purgatory, which is similar to the teaching of Origen;
“the teaching on the immaculate conception which we have thought up;
“our use of statues, like the pagans and idol-worshippers;
“the ban on our clergy entering into marriage;
“our introduction of the papist calendar;
“our distortion of all the sacraments which we accepted when we were Orthodox – for example, our heretical practice of baptism by sprinkling, which is like the practice of the Protestants, and our use of unleavened bread, which is like the Jews;
“our teaching that I the Pope am infallible, a teaching that forms the foundation of all the above-mentioned sins, which thereby witness to the fact that I am not infallible.
“I would also like to repent of the fact that I have drawn the Orthodox patriarchs of our century into the new heresy of ecumenism.
“From all the above examples it is evident that I have fallen away from True Christianity, and therefore both my actions and those of my predecessors are like the actions of the pagans, like whom I in the name of ‘Christianity’ killed, burned and destroyed everything that I could and everyone that I could for the sake of spreading my false teachings.
“The list of such evil works includes the Inquisition, when innocent people were burned at the pillar of shame, which witnesses to my unchristian attitude to people; and the crusades, which ravaged the capital of Orthodox Byzantium, Constantinople; the invasion and conquest of America, as a result of which with my blessing the two main indigenous civilizations there were annihilated; the murder by dismemberment of the holy Martyr Peter the Aleut, an Orthodox Christian who suffered in San Francisco at the hands of my Jesuit monks because he did not want to convert to my disgusting faith; and in our century, my predecessor Pius XII’s blessing of forcible conversion in Croatia, during which 800,000 Orthodox were killed because they did not want to convert and be subject to my papal authority.
“From all the above it follows that I am in a wretched condition, and I intend to ask forgiveness. I intend to renounce this heretical teaching and accept Orthodox baptism…” (From The True Church in The Last Times by Vladimir Moss)

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Special" Meeting Called

Continuing the cryptic nature of the recent decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch and Metropolitan Philip's support of the demotion all Bishops to the status of Auxiliary, this announcement appears on the website.
The meeting would have to be "special" considering the unprecedented move of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America to that of a single ruled church jurisdiction by fiat. What happened to consensus? How is it canonical that the Self-Ruled agreement, constitution and bylaws are stricken overnight with the support of the Metropolitan and without the consensus of the Bishops who rule? Papist? Certainly not the Orthodox way. We can only hope that the specialness of the meeting is so-called because our demoted Bishops will not stand for such an independent act outside the canonical method of governing. No Patriarch nor Metropolitan is above the will of God.

It would behoove the Metropolitan to come into the open concerning the actual real life reasons The Decision (of the Holy Synod) was made in the first place. Thinking that the use of phrases such as "preserve the unity" is sufficient communication highly underestimates the reaction of the laymen to such ambiguity. It would also behoove the Metropolitan to invite some laymen and lowly, subservient priests to the Special Meeting so as not to rule from an Episcopal Tower. JTO is hearing from priests and laymen who all express consternation and alarm that will not be quenched by posturing and subterfuge.

Whether it was The Decision itself or the method in which it was made, it has resulted in turmoil and has the potential of severely dividing what has been one of the most respected jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church. If the Patriarch or the Metropolitan determine that they can rule without the consensus of the people as a measure to the rightness of their decisions, then they have become isolated and out of touch indeed. How will you lead if there is no one left to follow? More than one has told JTO that they can get no response from the Metropolitan's office. JTO has personally experienced this with a previous matter in which a mailed letter went unanswered. Is anyone home up there?

The proof of Holiness in our Bishops and Parish Priests in this hour will be whether they will care more to safeguard their careers and positions rather than the Church of Christ. Will they stand for the right or will they cower under ecclesiastical power? There is a common story that once Metropolitan Philip was in conversation with a parishioner concerning the Canons. As the parishioner was giving his opinion the Metropolitan interrupted, "You don't tell me what the Canons say. I tell you." Could this be the pervasive attitude that is The Decision? Could this be the hierarchical papist attitude that causes the great divide of the Antiochian Church? Pride comes before the fall and until evidence and answers are forthcoming as to the rightness of the recent events, conclusion are limited to the negatives.

I have always said, "It is a wide Church." Damascus Syria, where the See of Antioch resides, is not larger than the state of Nebraska. In North America there are no more than 55,000 parishioners the Antiochian Diocese. There are almost 300 million Orthodox worldwide and about 500,000 of all jurisdictions in North America. If Metropolitans or Patriarchs err in matters of Canons or faith to the harm of the people they must either repent, be removed or the people must remove to another diocese. I hope all, including our Bishops and Priests, will consider this as a viable option should The Decision be revealed to be one not from the heart and will of Christ.

Told You So

Orthodox Prophets blog posted an article recently warning churches of the coming government attempt at control. The marriage of church and state through the voluntary 501c3 status allows the state to intrude. The recent attempt by a state legislature to take over control of a Catholic Parish's finances is just the beginning. Please read again the article 501c3's- Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.

The remedy? Drop your 501c3 status NOW!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cut To The Chase- This is the Gospel

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Canonical" Churches: What does it mean?

By Father Elias Greer

A new definition has crept into World Orthodoxy in recent years. World Orthodoxy has begun to recognize Orthodox Churches on the basis of their being 'canonical'. By this newly accepted definition, to be 'canonical' a church must be in full communion with Constantinople. Constantinople has become World Orthodoxy's touchstone. In fact, occasionally there are press releases that describe the Patriarchate of Constantinople as an Eastern Papacy or "the leader of World Orthodoxy." The late Patriarch Demetrius described the Ecumenical Patriarch as the foremost bishop of Orthodoxy. If a church falls away from communion with him, it is no longer 'canonical'.

Let's ask a simple question: How did the understanding of the term 'canonical' change? According to the Holy Fathers, the venerable term, 'Canonical' always referred to the pious observance of the Holy Canons of the Church, and, most certainly, to those Canons relating to the beliefs and pious practices of the holy Orthodox Church. However, because of wars and political turmoil in the 20th century, the administrative structure of the Church became disorganized, most especially in the Diaspora. 'Mother,' in other words, ethnic, Churches sought to preserve Orthodoxy by preserving its canonical organization, i.e., the organization described by the holy canons for dioceses and synods. Sadly, in the course of this organizational struggle for external order, any canons relating to the Apostolic Faith and the doctrines of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils, that is, to her inner, mystical life, were deliberately overlooked by the hierarchs who considered themselves to be the architects of this quest for order. These men were prompted by the syncretistic and anti-dogmatic spirit then prevalent, a spirit which continues today, a spirit which controls all current thought and practice in World Orthodoxy.

Satisfied that they had jettisoned the mystical life of the Church of Christ, these revisionist hierarchs in the Diaspora, and elsewhere, hastily sacrificed the Church's unity in Apostolic truth for the modern idea, foreign to guidance of the Holy Fathers, of the unity of mankind. This modernizing group imposed an external administrative union in order to preserve the unity of an outward ecclesiastical apparatus, now stripped of the inner life of the "faith once for all delivered to the Saints" (Jude 3) with all parishes welded together under one headquarters.

As an example of how this new restructuring of Orthodoxy in the Diaspora functioned, Parish Council members taking their pledge in Greek Archdiocese of America churches were asked to promise to be obedient to the canons and traditions of the Orthodox Church. Generally, these canons and traditions are viewed as abstract principles, which were not defined or clarified by the priest administering the pledge. This pledge is usually interpreted as complete obedience to the ruling hierarch.

The renovating hierarchy, as the chief plank in its modernizing platform advanced the novel theory, unknown to the Holy Fathers, that the canons are Laws which are to be interpreted by the ruling hierarch who decides what is and what is not 'canonical' in this new way of thinking. This is the way that the Patristic, truly Orthodox, understanding of the canons was set aside. A former bishop of the Greek Archdiocese who taught at Holy Cross in Boston shared his thoughts with his students about the Holy Canons. He remarked that over the years he had carefully studied the canons and had come to one conclusion: there was only one canon which needed to be obeyed in the church. He cynically declared that only those canons which spoke of hierarchal authority and obedience to the bishop needed to be obeyed. All other canons could be ignored.

Such a militaristic or, better, papal interpretation of the canons allowed individual patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops the freedom to act entirely apart from the wisdom and guidance of Holy Tradition. Such renovationism, so they thought, gave them unrestricted license to ignore any and all of the Holy Canons. They thus played the role of the sole authentic interpreters of the canons. This attitude reduces all the canons to one straightforward operating principle: "Obey your Bishop." With this axe in hand, the modernizing hierarchy quickly proceeded to align the Church with the spirit of the age and not with the Spirit of Christ.

Such a procedure may well bring to mind to mind the current method by which decisions are made in the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The Supreme Court now feels free to change prior decisions of the Court as well as laws passed by legislative bodies on the basis of the contemporary understanding and interpretation of moral values. For example, abortion may have been wrong at one time and condemned by the Supreme Court, but the Roe vs. Wade decision defined that there were other value systems which needed to be acknowledged. For the modern way of thinking, morality becomes a relative value and is never absolute. The modern mind desires to live in a world where there are no absolutes (aside for its demand that there are no absolutes), aside from its nihilism. Further, there is no Divine Authority on which to base any decisions. God has been dethroned and in His place stands the Supreme Court.

The interpretation of the Holy Canons has thus become a selective response controlled by the contemporary moral and irreligious scene. Ecumenism, a form of relativism, is in. The many canons forbidding joint prayer with non-Orthodox are out. These canons, so the story goes, are "old fashioned." There is no hesitation in having non-Orthodox Christian persons participate alongside the clergy of World Orthodoxy at funerals, in wedding services, vesper services, Theophany services, and even in Divine Liturgies. And this has happened often enough over the past 40 years that it has become a standard practice. Many, but not all, Orthodox Christians are not surprised or disturbed when such concelebrations take place. Very many Orthodox Christians in the so-called "Canonical" Churches are confident that the union of the churches has already occurred. The rites of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches are now acknowledged as "grace filled" by all the so-called "Canonical" jurisdictions, while the Mysteries of the traditional Orthodox Christians are deemed as invalid. What is ignored is that the Church has steadfastly taught that outside the Church there is no salvation; no mysteries (St. Cyprian of Carthage 268).

Indeed, some clergy of the Greek Archdiocese are known to have declared that the union of the churches has already occurred. The Antiochian jurisdiction's blasé attitude has allowed Moslems to be godparents, and priests to concelebrate in religious processions with Roman Catholic clergy. The O.C.A. has allowed a monastery that openly recognizes Roman Catholic saints as Orthodox Saints, and whose abbot has said that there is no theological difference between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, to remain uncorrected by the O.C.A. hierarchy. Greek Archdiocese clergy have been scandalized by the fact that the monastery does not keep the fast of Great Lent, and allows the eating of meat during Great Lent. The hierarchs of SCOBA (Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America) have forbidden their clergy to baptize Roman Catholics and Protestants because, according to these hierarchs, those in heresy have baptismal grace!

The canons are clear in that heretical baptism is not a baptism, but is a curse and defilement. The Holy Fathers teach with one voice that the "One baptism" referred to in the Nicene Creed is the mystery performed under the guidance of a right-teaching, right-believing, Orthodox bishop. If one recognizes the non-Orthodox baptisms then why shouldn't one recognize the other non-Orthodox rites: chrismation, Holy Communion, etc? Actually, many of the clergy of the "canonical" jurisdictions have already done so.

What makes a church truly canonical? Is it not the adherence to what has been taught everywhere, at all times, and by all the Orthodox Fathers of the Church (St. Vincent of Lerins 445)? If we cannot confess our faith and identify it with the faith of the Church's confessors and saints, then indeed we are not confessing the Orthodox Christian faith, but we are in reality mocking our ancient Orthodox Faith. But first of all, pray that we may not be lead astray by the "sirens of ecumenism." We need to be bonded to the spiritual ark of the church and not give in to the compromised faith of those who have rejected the Orthodox Faith and accepted a new adulterated faith, which no longer represents the faith confessed by the Holy Fathers, that is, "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

And one final point: Not one canon of the Orthodox Church teaches that one has to be in communion with Constantinople (or any other "ancient see") in order to be canonical or Orthodox!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Baptist Pastor Shot To Death In Church

Pray for soul of the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois who was shot and killed today as he preached.

A Message About Today’s Loss
(From the Church's Website)

Today, a little after our 8:15 service began, a man entered First Baptist Church and fired several gunshots at our Senior Pastor, Dr. Fred Winters. Pastor Winters was taken to the hospital but died of his wounds.

Please pray for Dr. Winter’s family, our two brave members who were injured when they stopped the assailant, for the assailant himself and his family, and for our church members as they deal with this tragic loss.

In this day, where uncertainty seems to abound creating an environment in which people are vulnerable in doing things they might not do otherwise, one thing is certain, we, as human beings need a foundation upon which we can live our lives. We at First Baptist Maryville, along with other Christian believers, share this conviction: that foundation is God’s Word. In the pages of the Book we call the Bible, we find the pathway for peace, hope, and a quality of living life despite what circumstances we find ourselves in.

To those who believe in the power of prayer, we covet your prayers right now.

Associated Press Article

JTO Reaches over 20,000 Readers!

20,000 hits is not significant in the eyes of the blogging world, but JTO doesn't adhere to all of the blog traffic methods and rules. We started posting in 2006 and those who have found us are the tried and true blogging surfers. We are humbled that so many people from all over the world read and comment on JTO. If you haven't taken the time, look for the Archived Articles to the left and see what you have missed. You will find most of the articles and comments as relevant now as when they were first posted.

Below is an example of what a few months traffic on JTO looks like. Look for your country and you might find you are not alone. Thanks to all JTO readers!

United States (US)2,096
Canada (CA)200
United Kingdom (GB)65
Australia (AU)45
Israel (IL)36
Greece (GR)35
Germany (DE)15
Sweden (SE)12
Finland (FI)7
Bulgaria (BG)6
South Africa (ZA)6
India (IN)6
Spain (ES)6
Netherlands (NL)6
Romania (RO)5
Philippines (PH)5
Malaysia (MY)4
New Zealand (NZ)3
Russian Federation (RU)3
Ireland (IE)3
France (FR)3
Korea, Republic of (KR)3
Mexico (MX)3
Japan (JP)3
Brazil (BR)3
Cyprus (CY)3
Hungary (HU)2
Poland (PL)2
Belgium (BE)2
Austria (AT)2
Ukraine (UA)2
Italy (IT)2
China (CN)2
Indonesia (ID)1
Denmark (DK)1
Norway (NO)1
Peru (PE)1
Estonia (EE)1
Lithuania (LT)1
Czech Republic (CZ)1
United Arab Emirates (AE)1
Egypt (EG)1
Saudi Arabia (SA)1
Serbia (RS)1
Ghana (GH)1
Nigeria (NG)1
Kenya (KE)1

Sad Stats

In recently perusing the September 2006 JTO article, I Am No Mathematician, I was reminded of a few very tough facts. The Orthodox Church is losing the race for the souls of men on the North American Continent. The concerns about the decision to alter the role of Bishops in North America are varied, but the most important concern may be easily missed amidst the political maze that can become the focus of such a jurisdictional decision. We can lose sight of the the fact that we are the body of Christ under His jurisdiction and that the Church's chief role is to,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..."

If Doctor Phil were Orthodox, he might ask the question of us,
"So how's that working for you?" Given that there are less than 500,000 Orthodox Christians of any Jurisdiction in North America, the true statistics of Church growth on this continent should shame us. Contrast that with the 529,000,000 people who live in North America. How does Orthodoxy compare with other religions?

Did you know that

1. Unitarian Universalism
2. Hinduism
3. Buddhism
4. Islam
5. Judaism

each have more practicing members in the United States alone than Eastern Orthodox has in all of North America? Eastern Orthodoxy is not even included on major lists of religions in the USA due to its statistically insignificant numbers.

Did you know that the Wicans/Pagans/Druids have more practicing members in the United States than does the Eastern Orthodox?

"So Antiochian Archdiocese of North America," asks our hypothetically Orthodox Dr. Phil, "how's it working for you?"

Given that there are less than 55,000 members of the Antiochian Orthodox jurisdiction in all of North America, did you know that ALL official religions in the United States have more active participants than the Antiochian Orthodox Church has in all of North America, with the exception of the cultist 60's era Eckankar? While the Antiochian Orthodox Church boasts of its 33% growth under Metropolitan Philip's pastorate, other heterodox and heretical groups have far exceeded that with growth upwards to 400% in the same time frame.

So when concern comes over the major restructuring of the Bishopric on this Continent it is not simply a question of personalities, control or ulterior motives, it is a real concern that the little progress the Orthodox church has made on this continent will be set back for years. Sometimes it seems we are attempting to preserve the Syrian church through containment rather than promote the cause of Christ. In any case, the Orthodox Church is losing the race for souls and these Sad Stats are the proof.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Why I Reject Protestantism- Guest Contributor

JTO Readers: Here is another challenging statement from JTO Guest Contributor, Timothy Kwoh, from the land down under. They make them tough down there and Timothy is no exception. It is clear that Timothy is less concerned with offending than he is with rescuing souls from the maze and mire that is Protestantism. For some in need of rescue, that requires confrontation and manumit not cookies and milk. But in case manumit takes you too much out of your comfort zone, I have provided a photo of cookies and milk below for you to visualize as you read. Just ignore the fiery sword to the right. I said ignore it...

Dear Orthodox Brethren,
I wish to state some reasons as to why I reject Protestantism. It may be disturbing to say the least.

1. Protestantism allow
s for private interpretation before Truth. Whilst claiming to believe in the "infallibility of Scripture" or "Bible Only", what it really reads as is personal private interpretation as becoming the standard of Truth rather than the whole counsel of God as revealed in Scripture and Holy Tradition. In fact, it has often lead to total negation of fundamental Christian doctrines altogether and even to pseudo-Christian and heretical cults. Whilst Papists/Latins already elevate private interpretation in the form of the rantings of one hierarch speaking in "ex-cathedra", Protestants have taken the other extreme and tried to make it look more pious. Is it no wonder that one of our saints of our time, Saint Justin Popovich, stated: "Papism is the first Protestantism".

2. Protestantism has encouraged anti-Christian and anti-Biblical sentiments in both doctrine and social issues all in the name of "the grace of God" which is really gracelessness. It is within Protestantism that we discovered liberalism, communism, gay/lesbian
liberation theology, ecumenism/pan-heresy movement, so called "Emergent Church" Movement and so on. To add insult to injury, you can include the World Council of "Churches" (really World Council of Heretics and Antichrists) as well as evangelists in universalism such as Robert Schuller, Billy Graham, John Stott and so on.

Israel bashing at every turn seems to be promoted in classical Protestantism. (Shame on any Orthodox, both layman or hierarch, who has engaged in the same!). It was Martin Luther who gave a precursor for Nazism to persecute the Jews out of existence. Even though a number of Lutherans today might find this an embarrassing fact, many Lutheran bishops and pastors welcomed Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich. In addition to this, both the Nazis (including neo-Nazis today) and the Lutheran 'church' published Martin Luther's rants against the Jews. Today in the world of Protestantism, even though the facts are obvious to all, there is much bashing of Israel and 'Zionism' but nothing said against the godless anti-Christian Muslim terrorists in the Hamas and Hezbollah movements as well as PLO. It seems convenient to ignore the fact that these people stated: "First the Saturday people. (Jews) Next the Sunday People (Christians)." [SHAME ON ANY ORTHODOX LEADER OR LAYMAN WHO HAS DONE EXACTLY THE SAME. YOU DO NOT REPRESENT THE FAITH BUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL, ETHNOCENTRIC BIAS!]. As much as the Jews and Judaism may be wrong for rejecting the Messiah, yet we must always bear in mind that since they are the original people of God, we the Church have the mission of bringing them back into the fold through both correct teaching of the Old Testament and also through out love. Like it or not, only the state of Israel has guaranteed the protection and freedoms of the Christians in the Middle East, not to mention the fact that they have even allowed Jews or Israeli citizens to convert to Christianity. We must love them into the Church, since it is inevitable after much suffering, that they will repent and accept the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

4. [CAUTION: THIS IS ANOTHER THAT EVEN OUR ORTHODOX BRETHREN HAVE FALLEN GUILTY OF]. Collaboration with Islam and Muslim terrorists. Protestantism is the worst culprit in this regards. In fact, Martin Luther and John Calvin, whilst criticizing Islam theologically, on the other hand, were keen on having their followers being buried with Islamic ritual and also at times collaborated with the godless Ottoman Turks to overthrow their Catholic counterparts. Today we have official hierarchs and well-renowned evangelists and leaders seeking to collaborate with these Christ-deniers and murderers of the brethren. Whether it is the World Council of 'Churches' (Heretics and Antichrists) or the likes of Rev. Gordon Moyes, Rev. Billy Graham, Rev. John Stott, Robert Schuller and others. In fact, Robert Schuller was caught on camera stating that he did not object to his children converting to Islam! [SHAME ON ANY ORTHODOX HIERARCH AND LAYMAN WHO HAS DONE THE SAME. GREATER SHAME ON A NUMBER OF HIERARCHS WITHIN THE ANTIOCHIAN CHURCH AS WELL AS THE RUSSIAN AND GREEK CHURCHES WHO HAVE DONE SIMILARLY. THEY PUT ST. JOHN OF DAMASCUS TO SHAME AND TRAMPLE ON THE BLOOD OF OUR BRETHREN.]

5. Protestantism created the impetus for left-wing ideologies of Communism, liberal-Bible denying theories and the pseudo-science of Darwin's evolution theory. Both Marx and Engels came from Protestant backgrounds. Marx from Lutheranism via his father's conversion and Engels from the Huguenots who immigrated to Germany. When they totally rejected any vestige of Christianity altogether, they changed the "natural law of God" to the law of man. Protestantism gave enough impetus for them to write their accursed "The Communist Manifesto". Bible-deniers were prominent in the Lutheran circles via the Jesuit theories adopted.(It seems that Khomyakov was correct in stating that: "Both Papism and Protestantism are two sides of the same coin."). It is interesting to note that Luther called for the removal of the book of James altogether from the New Testament in the name of "defending grace" (really 'gracelessness'). Charles Darwin never had a degree in science whatsoever and was simply coming from the background of negating God because of his disillusionment with Christianity. Darwin, despite negating his own theories, on his deathbed, never repented to the God of the Bible and yet was granted an Anglican burial! Protestantism created his rebelliousness since it allowed for private interpretation to be superior to Truth. It is also interesting to note that the accursed "Biblical Criticism" came from Protestantism and even gave birth to the negation of the Byzantine Text of Scripture to the point of replacing it with 2 manuscripts that were never used by the Church, and in fact, were meant to be thrown out by the monks in the Sinai monastery, only to be discovered by rationalist Germans and furthered by 2 Christ-denying, heretical Anglican clergymen: Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort. All the modern translations, both Protestant and Catholic, are based on these perverted manuscripts.

6.Protestantism was the first to promote accommodation with the world to the point of allowing rock music and questionable material and practices to penetrate their 'churches'. They made the excuse of "making the church relevant" and 'following the times' to bring people into church. If that is the case, then they have failed miserably because the West is apostatizing and most are avoiding 'churches' or anything to do with Christianity for Eastern religions and heresies. Thus, Protestantism has made itself the enemy of God by seeking to be friends with the world. (James 4)

7. Protestantism is the biggest revisionist of history. In the name of 'purifying the church', they make base accusations saying that Christianity was lost for thousands of years until the arrival of the Protestant Reformation. They accuse the Fathers of various sins and denigrate certain saints. They are thus accusing Christ of not being able to keep his promise that the Church will always be there unto the end of the world and that the gates of hell will not prevail against her. I wish to tell any serious minded Christian person within Protestantism to come out of her and be not a partaker of her plagues. Entering the Orthodox Church does not mean you will lose any real Christian convictions you may have learnt. It will only clarify them further and strengthen your faith, small as it may be. If anything, you will learn more not less to support your Christian convictions if you have any. Orthodoxy has not changed whilst both Papism and Protestantism have often been subject to change.

Yours in Christ,
Timothy Kwoh

[JTO Note: Click here or on the artwork of the sword on fire to read about the astonishing work of the artist- a believer and man of faith.]

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Good Man

It is not difficult to commend Metropolitan Philip. In the current conversation concerning the demoting of Bishops in North America, priests and laymen alike have referred to His Eminence as a "good man". His years of pastoral devotion, his dialogue in SCOBA, his acceptance of converts, and his stated desire to work to preserve unity in the Antiochian Archdiocese are commendable and good. His Eminence's recent decision to write a letter of explanation concerning the Holy Synod's decision to change the status of the Antiochian Bishops is also commendable, but one could wonder why this came after only much pressure from his sheep. Much of the current tumultuous response to the decision was due to the cryptic nature of the announcement. Now, some of the reasons have been stated and some of the cryptic elements made clear-some. Now comes the aftermath of his stated support of the decision that changed the status of all Antiochian Bishops.

Is "good man" a title for life? History is filled with good men who spent their entire life as such only to make a bad decision toward the end. Unfortunately, or rightfully, some might argue, a late turning of this sort can eclipse an entire lifetime of goodness. One can be remembered for the good he does, but the harm he does is always more resounding. Since cryptic elements of
The Decision still remain, it is a challenge to fully judge the motives as good or bad. But, one must divine between intention and action in this matter. An intention can be good but an action unwise. That the Metropolitan's intention has elements of goodness is clear:

"One of the greatest assets that we have been blessed with in this Archdiocese is our strong unity. We cannot take any chance that disunity would occur in the Antiochian Archdiocese. I believe that this decision supports maximum unity and guards against any fracture in the future."

The stated intent is unity but is it possible that
The Decision itself will cause the fracture that it is intended to prevent? Accusations of "Papalism" and "power grab" are being leveled at what one can only interpret as an attempt to quell some Bishops who are the inferred subjects of the disunity. Without knowing the details or the determining factors, the sheep are relegated to rumors and conjecture. Were the Bishops too liberal or too conservative? Were there personality conflicts? Were the Bishops given to doctrinal errors or were they just fulfilling their role as good men within the arena of Orthodox consensus government by Synod and expressing opinions that differed from that of the Metropolitan? Was the church in America becoming too... American? Were too many speaking out against Islam? Was the diocese slipping further away from Arab, ethnic control? Has Ecumenicalism, Papalism, or Protestantism finally come to roost? What has not been asked is whether the Metropolitan instigated the issue with the Patriarch or Vice Versa. In any case, cryptisism breeds cryptisism and questions abound.

I, for one, would like to think that the Metropolitan has uncovered some sinister plot by the disunifiers to usurp and harm the church and that he is not at liberty to give details, however, on its face,
The Decision was divisive and suspect. In the minds of many, The Decision itself has become the sinister plot. It was seemingly done in the shadows, not the light, and without the consensus of the Bishops themselves nor of the people under their care. The question remains as to what the parish roots uprising will bring. Whether or not the Metropolitan's latter days will be worse that the former pales in comparison to the days ahead for the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America. By the Metropolitan's own words, The Decision was opposed to the very constitution by which the church in North America is governed:

"As you are all aware, there are still some differences that exist between the Archdiocese Constitution that was approved in Pittsburgh, and the constitution that was proposed by the Holy Synod of Antioch as an alternative. These differences will be addressed with the Patriarch, myself, and the Holy Synod in due time."

It seems that the "due time" should have been before the demotion of the Bishops so as not to be seen as a usurper of the very rules that gave the Metropolitan his Bishopric. Forgive any assumption that may come from the contagious cryptinitis bug, but could it be that those pesky, ununited, bothersome Bishops stood in the way of one good man's view of the future of the church in North America? Is it not unseemly, unorthodox and unscriptural that, what was in every interpretation a political move, has in essence, defrocked Bishops who are in every way each as
good a man as the Metropolitan and the Patriarch? After all, these Bishops were equipped with Shepherd's staffs as well, rightfully given, rightfully bestowed through the Holy Sacrament of Ordination. Yet, the Metropolitan seems to downplay the effects of The Decision:

"Most importantly, I do not see the action of the Holy Synod of Antioch as making that much practical change in the way we operate. Most of the auxiliary bishops will remain where they are. The auxiliary bishops will administer the dioceses on behalf of the Metropolitan. It is now clear that in the few instances in which the Metropolitan disagrees with the action of a bishop, that the Metropolitan has the authority to reverse that decision. While we have vacancies in some of the dioceses, it is important that the Metropolitan have the flexibility of moving a bishop to a place where the best interests of the Archdiocese can be served."

This seems the equivalent of removing a Shepherd's staff from him and delegating to him just the occasional filling of the feed trough. Oh, and by the way, if a destaffed, delegated, former Bishop is sent by the last remaining Bishop to fill your trough, you can mention his name, otherwise, he is not to be mentioned. Not much "practical change"?

That the Metropolitan may be a good man is moot in light of of Christ's admonition:

"Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

If there be any good thing in any of us, it is because we reflect our Creator. Those who are truly good in this matter are yet to be determined. Whether or not the sheep continue to follow the last remaining Antiochian Shepherd on the North American continent is also yet to be determined. It certainly should not be presumed. It is a wide church with optional jurisdictions (though such options still remain outside of the Canon). The Church is a body with many parts. She belongs to no man and God is a jealous God. This is why the bishops, priests and deacons of the Antiochian Archdiocese, in order to be
Good, even as He is Good, must value righteousness over their own career paths, fearing God over man, even a good man. This is why they too must speak to this matter outside of anonymity. This is why I, as a layman, must speak, for according to the Orthodox faith, the Layman is the fourth order of the priesthood. We do honor those who have rule over us as the scripture teaches, but lest we forget, let us all gaze upon the icons in the temples and ponder those martyrs who stood for righteousness in opposition to those who would rule in error.

His Eminence, speaks the truth when he says,

"If we do not learn from the mistakes of history, we will be condemned to repeat the same mistakes. "

But, has history not taught us that usurping
sole authority over a part of the existing church and its Bishops causes great schism? Are we being condemned to repeat the Great Schism? Is The Decision and the Metropolitan's support of it another in the "mistakes of history" to which he refers?

All men are mortal and in that mortality good men, turned bad, should become to us as dust in the wind and leaven in the loaf. God grant that our Bishops and Patriarchs remain free from such error but God also grant that any who fall into such error will repent or

"Let his days be few and let another take his office".

God give us wisdom in this matter to discern which should be the case and God be merciful to all of us for we are all sinners.