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17482Contemporary signs of the End of the World

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  • Basil Yakimov
    Jul 25 7:15 PM
      Subject: Contemporary signs of the End of the World

      The outward betterment of the
      conditions of life alone,without
      first a moral improvement of the
      people themselves, would be total
      victory of evil, for such a self
      satisfied happiness would
      strenghten the hopless corporeal
      condittion of those who partake
      thereof, paralyzing all
      possibility for moral improvement
      and spiritual perfection.
      Fr. Boris Molchanoff

      (Embedded image moved to file:
      pic24271.jpg)

      CONTEMPORARY SIGNS OF THE END OF
      THE WORLD
      Lecture given by Father Seraphim
      Rose in May 1981


      Many shall belive in antichrist
      ,said a certain blessed monk, and
      shall beging to glorify him as
      mighty god. But they that have God
      always within themselves, shall
      see the truth through pure faith,
      and shall recognize him. For at
      that time the comming of the
      tormentor shall be known to all
      that have knowledge of God an
      reason. But to them that have
      their minds ever on the things of
      this life and love earthly things
      , this will not be understood ,
      for they are caught in things of
      this life . And if they hear the
      word of caution concerning
      antichrist, they will have no
      faith, but will despise them that
      say such things all the more.
      Holy Recluse George of
      Zadonsk(letters)/St. Ephraim the
      Syrian(Discourse)

      Introduction
      Christians know that when they
      believe in the Kingdom of Heaven
      and search for it, then the
      Kingdom of Heaven is already
      entering "inside them" and into
      the world through the Church. But
      if they intend to build a happy
      life of the Kingdom of God now on
      earth for themselves or even for
      future generations, not only will
      they fail to build it on earth,
      but they may lose it in Heaven as
      well.
      Fr. Michael Pomazansky




      Today I would like to speak on a subject which is very relevant to
      our times: the end of the world; more particularly, the signs being
      fulfilled in our times which point to the end of the world.


      There have been a number of times in the past when this subject was
      of great interest. In fact, you can even call them “apocalyptic”
      times. The Apostles themselves felt that their times were very
      apocalyptic. (Later I will present some of the statements they made
      in the Scriptures which show that they really expected the end of all
      things to be very close.) At various other times – for example, in
      the West, around the year 1000 – there was a great expectation of the
      end. In Russia near the end of the 15th century, again there was a
      period when the end was expected shortly. This was because the year
      1492, according to the chronology of the Old Testament, was the year
      7000 from the creation of the world. And many people in our own times
      have this same feeling that time is running out, that something big
      is going to happen. Often this is bound up with the number 2,000.
      That is, we have come to the end of two millennia of Christianity; a
      millennium is thought of as a big thing, a whole thousand years, and
      two of them means some great crisis must be approaching; and many
      people place this in the terms of the end of the world. Of course,
      that does not necessarily mean anything, since we don’t know the day,
      or the hour, or the year when the world is going to end (Matt.
      24:36). I will try, however, to go into what our attitude should be
      toward this expectation of the end.


      Nowadays, when you think about “apocalyptic awareness,” you think of
      Protestant sectarians of various kinds, who have definite ideas about
      what is going to happen at the end of this age. It is not only
      religious thinkers, however, but also ordinary secular philosophers
      who talk about the end of the world in a very bold way. I will give
      you an example, one who should be close to us because he is an
      Orthodox writer: Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He has been outside of
      Russia since 1974, and has written about life in the Soviet Union and
      especially in the Soviet labor camps, the infamous Gulag. He is not
      what one would consider a “mystical” or “vague” thinker, or someone
      who’s up in the clouds; he is very down-to-earth.


      Almost three years ago he gave a talk at the Harvard University
      commencement, in which he spoke boldly to the people of the West
      (just as before that he had spoken boldly to Soviet leaders), telling
      them that their civilization is collapsing and is in danger of being
      taken over by Communism, that modern humanism is not deep enough to
      satisfy the human soul, and that it is no model that can be followed
      by Russia if Russia should overthrow Communism. At the end of this
      address he used the following words to express his idea of the depth
      of the crisis which is now occurring in the world:


      “If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn
      in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to
      the Renaissance.”


      Here he speaks seriously of the possibility of the “end of the
      world,” based on his observations that it is impossible for men to
      live long without deep spiritual roots, which have been uprooted in
      the East by Communism and in the West by worldly humanism.


      In his other writings, Solzhenitsyn, like many realistic thinkers
      today, speaks of specific reasons, quite apart from the spiritual
      ones, why he thinks that such a period of great crisis is facing
      humanity. He mentions things that you will find in any serious
      analysis of today’s news: namely, such things as the nearness of the
      exhaustion of the earth’s resources (if they are used at the present
      rates); the disastrous pollution of air and water and soil (which is
      much worse in Russia than in America); the overpopulation of the
      world and the approaching disastrous shortage of food which seems to
      be coming; and, of course, the development of weapons in the last few
      decades, which makes the virtual annihilation of human life possible.


      All this relates to the physical signs of an approaching great
      crisis, the end of the modern age, and perhaps the end of the world
      itself. But much more remarkable than these are the spiritual signs
      that are multiplying in our times. This is what I would like to
      mostly talk about.






      What should be the attitude of a committed Orthodox Christian toward this
      whole idea of the end of the world, and toward the signs which are
      preparing for it? Should we dismiss all this as some kind of superstition,
      hysteria, and so forth?


      No, we should not. We have, first of all, the answer given by our Lord
      Jesus Christ Himself in the Gospel. Just two days before He was to go to
      His Passion, His disciples came to Him on the Mount of Olives and asked
      Him: “Tell us, when shall these things be?” – that is, the destruction of
      the temple, which He had just mentioned. Then they asked Him: “And what
      shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt.
      24:3). Our Saviour at that moment did not reject the question, as He did at
      other times when the disciples asked things they should not be asking, such
      as when James and John asked if they would be able to sit next to Him in
      the Kingdom of Heaven (Mark 10:37). On the contrary, He allowed them to ask
      the questions, and He answered them. These answers take up the entire
      twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of St. Matthew (where the historical
      events before the end of the world are set forth), and the twenty-fifth
      chapter (where He teaches most fully on the coming Judgment and on how to
      prepare for His coming). In a shorter form, these are also set forth in the
      Gospels of Mark and Luke. Some of these prophecies refer directly to the
      destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which happened several decades
      after the Crucifixion, but the rest refer to the end of the whole world.


      In His answer, our Lord gives the following main points. First of all,
      beware of deception, of following false Christs. Then there will be various
      signs, such as wars, famines, earthquakes – and all these are not the end
      but rather the beginning of the tribulation. Then there will be the moral
      signs: the persecutions of Christians; the increase of evil; the growing
      coldness of love, which is one of the main signs that Christianity is
      dying, because the sign of a Christian, as our Lord told us, is that he has
      love for others. Then another sign is that the Gospel is to be preached to
      the whole world, after which the end will come. Another sign is that there
      will be a terrible tribulation, i.e. apart even from all the things He has
      mentioned already: wars, famines, earthquakes. And “the abomination of
      desolation will be in the holy place” (we must understand this according to
      the interpretation handed down by the Holy Fathers, which I will speak
      about); and “the days will be shortened… for the sake of the elect” (Matt.
      24:15, 22).


      Then again He warns about false Christs and false prophets, and about
      “great signs and wonders” which, “if possible, will lead astray even the
      elect,” i.e. not only will terrible physical events happen, but there will
      also be deceptions which are so subtle that even the elect themselves might
      be fooled.


      Then the sign of the coming of Christ: it will be sudden, from above, and
      not like His first coming. The signs of the very end are that “the sun
      shall be darkened, the moon shall not give its light, the stars will fall
      from heaven”; and then Christ Himself will appear in the heavens with the
      sign of the Cross.


      But He tells us that the day and hour of His coming are not for us to know.
      Nonetheless, we should pay attention. He gives us the parable of the fig
      tree: when we see its branches putting forth leaves, we know that summer is
      nigh; and, likewise, when we watch the signs and see these things beginning
      to happen, then we know that the times are ripe, that the end is drawing
      near.


      Therefore, we are to watch not for a specific day or time, but rather for
      the signs of the end so that we can be prepared. We are especially to be
      prepared against deception, which is involved with one of the great events
      to happen at the end of the world: the coming of Antichrist, which we will
      discuss shortly.


      As I mentioned earlier, the age of the Apostles – the first century – was
      full of the expectation that Christ would soon return. Today it is a little
      difficult for us even to imagine how the Apostles could be so filled with
      fervor for Christ that they could go to all the ends of the world; but they
      literally did. The Apostle Thomas went to India, and some say even as far
      as China; St. Andrew went north to Scythia, which is now Russia; St.
      Aristobulus and others went to England; St. Matthew and others went south
      to Abyssinia. The whole civilized world at that time was covered by the
      Apostles, because they had the idea that the world was coming soon to an
      end and that they were to go out to all the lands and preach the Gospel.
      Already by the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D.
      70, the Gospel had been preached to virtually all the known inhabited
      world. From that time on began the bringing forth of fruits in all those
      countries in which the seed of the Gospel had been planted.


      And we see, if we take any one particular country that received the Gospel,
      how over the centuries it brought forth fruits. It had saints, the lives of
      people were completely changed, and there was a total difference between
      the time that country was pagan and the time it accepted Orthodox
      Christianity. If you take any country in the West, such as Britain or
      France, or in the East, such as Byzantium or Syria or Russia, you will see
      that this is the case.


      There are a number of Scriptural passages in which the Apostles mention the
      coming of the end. For example, in Philippians 4:4-5, St. Paul writes:
      “Rejoice in the Lord always… The Lord is at hand.” St John mentions in 1
      John 2:18: “Little children, it is the last hour.” The Apostle Peter says
      in 1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is at hand.” Elsewhere, answering
      those who said that the end was a long time in coming, St. Peter says in
      his famous statement that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,
      and a thousand years is one day, and that the Lord is only being patient
      with us until we repent (II Peter 3:8-9). And then, immediately after that,
      he gives us a full description of the actual end of the world by fire
      (3:10-13).


      So, from that very time, those who were fervent Christians had a definite
      idea: the world is soon coming to an end. Of course, nineteen centuries
      have passed since that time. Does that mean that the Apostles were
      mistaken? Or that anyone else who thinks so is also mistaken, and we should
      put away all ideas that the end of the world is at hand, that Christ is
      coming soon? No, it does not mean this. It means that we are to understand
      this in the right way, and the right way is the spiritual way. If we
      ourselves are leading a conscious spiritual life, conducting the unseen
      warfare against our own fallen nature and against the demons who are
      against us, then we will be constantly expecting the coming of Christ into
      our soul.


      The only danger is if you go overboard and begin to try to place dates, to
      calculate exactly when it is going to happen, to be too concerned about
      specific events which are occurring and too quick to place them in
      categories so that they fit into chapters of the Apocalypse.


      Of course, the big mistake made by the people who go overboard in these
      details occurs when they fall into the heresy of chiliasm: the expectation
      of Christ coming to earth for a thousand years. Chiliasm, a heresy fought
      by the early Fathers of the Church, constantly comes up again in sectarian
      circles, especially in times of historical uncertainty and crisis. It is
      the teaching of a reign of Christ on earth before the end of the world: a
      reign of peace and prosperity under Christ, Who will reign with His elect
      in Jerusalem and conquer all foes. This troublesome heresy was widespread
      even in the early history of the Church and was condemned by the Second
      Ecumenical Council in A.D.381. That was when the phrase was put in the
      Creed: “…and His Kingdom shall have no end.” This phrase was introduced
      into the Creed with the specific intention of countering the chiliastic
      teaching of the heretic Apollinarius.


      The idea of chiliasm arose out of a misinterpretation of Apocalypse chapter
      20, which says the devil was bound for a thousand years and Christ came and
      reigned with His saints. If you just read the text straight through without
      stopping and interpreting it according to what the Holy Fathers have said
      about it, you can get the idea that there is to be a period of a thousand
      years between two future comings of Christ. This means you have to have two
      different Judgments. In fact, the Protestants do: they have a “Great White
      Throne Judgment,” and some other kind of Judgment. This confuses the whole
      picture of Christian eschatology.


      In the universal interpretation of the Orthodox Holy Fathers, however,
      there is no mystery about this. The reign of Christ with His saints is
      occurring now. This is the Church. This is the life of grace in the Church
      with the Sacraments, which Protestants, not having, do not understand. The
      life in the Church is such a blessed state – because we are with Christ, we
      have His grace, we have His Body and Blood within us – that this is like
      Paradise. And this is what people call the millennium. The “thousand years”
      means a whole period. One thousand is a round number: 10x10x10 in
      symbolical language means the fullness of time between the First Coming and
      the Second Coming of Christ.


      Expectation of a chiliastic coming of Christ (i.e. of Christ reigning as an
      earthly ruler for a thousand years) has led to fantasies and bloodshed,
      from the time of the Middle Ages to now: “charismatic” leaders persuade
      their followers either that they are Christ, or that they are preparing for
      Him. This is an exact fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy of fake Christs who
      will not come from the heavens at the end of the world. In recent times,
      Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and many other sectarian
      groups have preached this doctrine, often predicting the exact year and day
      of the end of the world – which never comes on schedule – or preparing for
      a great “world leader” who will bring peace on earth. This “world leader”
      will be the Antichrist, about whom the Scriptures prophesy exactly.
      Fantasies of the coming “millennium” are one of the chief ways mankind is
      preparing for the Antichrist.


      Our times are full of this chiliasm or millenarianism. This is the basis of
      the Communist ideology of the perfect state on earth that will come when
      the “dictatorship of the proletariat” finally ends. Such fantasies always
      result in tyranny in the name of a religious or philosophical ideal,


      Chiliastic views themselves are not a particular sign of the end. They
      existed in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and in more modern times; but
      they have never been more widespread than today, not merely among small
      groups of sectarians, but among political and religious leaders of
      humanity. This I will talk about a little later as one of the signs of the
      end.


      Now let us turn to some of the spiritual signs of the end. Most of these
      signs are bound up with the figure of Antichrist, the world ruler at the
      end of time, the last great enemy of Christ. Many people have a very
      superficial idea about him: Luther thought it was the Pope, others have a
      caricatural idea of him as simply a vicious dictator. We must go deeper
      than this, and especially distinguish between the general spirit of
      Antichrist, the many lesser antichrists who have this spirit to some
      degree, and the Antichrist himself, who will come only at the very end of
      time and rule the whole world. St. John says (1 John 2:18): “As ye have
      heard that Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come;
      therefore we know that it is the last hour.” That is, just because we have
      seen many with the spirit of Antichrist in the past – those who have fought
      against Christ, like some Roman emperors, and especially those who have
      tried to deceive Christians by means of some fake teaching and seeming
      miracles – this does not mean there will not be a single Antichrist at the
      end of the world. These many small antichrists should prepare us for the
      coming of the great Antichrist.Apostasy

      St. Paul himself, who was very filled with awareness of the coming
      end of the world and the second coming of Christ, warns Christians
      even in his time not to be excited about the end of the world. He
      says in II Thessalonians 2:2-3: “Be not quickly shaken in mind or
      troubled… as though the day of the Lord is just at hand. Let no one
      deceive you: that day will not come except the falling away come
      first and the man of lawlessness be revealed, the son of perdition.”


      This is a very important sign of the end: the falling away or
      apostasy and the coming of the man of lawlessness, which is
      Antichrist. On this subject I would like focus quite a bit of our
      attention. This concept of apostasy is a key one with which to
      understand the events of our times. It is too big of a topic to go
      into completely now. But briefly: a student of history, looking at
      the whole past two thousand years of history, especially Western
      history, can see a continuous thread of development. And in these
      last nine hundred or thousand years, you can see the various strands
      which go to make up our modern history and modern civilization. The
      civilization of today is shaped by the events and developments of
      yesterday.


      When Solzhenitsyn speaks about the coming of a great world crisis or
      even the end of the world, he is referring to the fact that this
      historical current, which has been going on for the last thousand
      years at least, is now coming to its end. There is no place further
      for it to go: it must either change drastically or destroy mankind.
      Solzhenitsyn traces it back to the end of the Middle Ages. Actually,
      it goes back further. If you examine it historically, I think you can
      see that it traces back to the time when Rome broke away from the
      Church, i.e. the year 1054, the middle of the 11th century. Something
      happened in the West: the West chose to go its own way.


      This breaking away on the part of Rome was the beginning of what can
      be called the mainstream of apostasy. Apostasy means “falling away,”
      even a very small falling away. If you look at Rome in the 12th
      century, it was still fairly close to Orthodoxy. Nonetheless, it had
      begun to deviate in its various ideas about the importance of the
      Pope, and so forth. Once this movement of apostasy began, it went
      step by step, very logically, to produce the world we see today. Rome
      broke off from the Church because worldly ideas of Church government
      – the papacy – became dominant. And once the Roman Church was
      independent of the Churches in the East, these innovations began to
      enter the life of Rome until it became, over the centuries,
      increasingly different from Orthodoxy.


      Worldliness in the Western world produced the pagan Renaissance, and
      the departures in the Roman Church from the true Christian practices
      of the earlier Church (most notably the Roman Catholic idea of
      “indulgences” and especially the selling of them) produced the
      Protestant Reformation, which gradually threw out almost all of the
      ancient Christian traditions together with the various superstitions
      and false practices against which it was supposedly rebelling. This,
      in turn, produced the reaction which we know as the Age of
      Enlightenment, the eighteenth century, which threw out religion
      altogether and tried to base life upon human reason and common sense.
      This is basically what civilization is trying to live on today. And
      this is what has produced the Communism out of which Solzhenitsyn
      came, and against which he is protesting. Communism is the last and
      most consistent form of trying to make life on earth solely fit human
      ideas, not divine ones.


      If Rome had not fallen away from Orthodoxy and started this whole
      process of apostasy, world history would have been much different. We
      can see even now that in the East, Orthodox countries like Greece and
      Russia did not have a Renaissance, or a Reformation, or even an
      Enlightenment period, as did the West. And if they are now bound up
      with the same kind of worldview as is the West, it is because they
      have in the last century or two finally accepted all these ideas and
      been poisoned by them. Therefore, they have become part of the whole
      world which is now involved in one single civilization, i.e. Western
      civilization – which is, as Solzhenitsyn rightly sees, in its dying
      phase.


      In the same passage in which St. Paul mentions the apostasy (II
      Thessa-lonians 2:7), he gives a second name for this movement. He
      calls it the “mystery of iniquity,” or the “mystery of lawlessness.”
      He says: “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” preparing
      for Antichrist, who is the “man of lawlessness.” If we look around at
      our 20th century civilization, the word “lawlessness” or “anarchy” is
      perhaps the chief characteristic that identifies it.


      A few examples: By the beginning of the 20th century, all the various
      schools of modern art dissolved into what can only be called a
      “lawless” state: Cubism, Futurism, ending in just blocks on the
      canvas – or, what Jackson Pollock was doing twenty-five years ago:
      standing in the midst of a large canvas, he would get “inspired,” dip
      his paint brushes in pails, and throw the paint (and sometimes
      whatever came into his hands) on the canvas. You cannot seriously
      call it art if you consider what the ancient masters created was art,
      because they were meticulous and careful and there was a whole art or
      science to what they did. Therefore, you can say that, compared to
      ancient art or even the more recent art of previous centuries, this
      is a kind of lawlessness, because the artist are letting them-selves
      go and doing what is against all the laws.


      In modern music it is the same way. An historian of music – Alfred
      Frankenstein – wrote a complete history of Western music, and when he
      came to the 20th century he stopped and said: I cannot write anymore,
      because what comes from here on is no longer music as I know it. That
      is, he appreciated that there was something there, but he said it
      does not obey the laws that music obeyed up until the end of the 19th
      century; therefore, it is something else; let somebody else write
      about it. Because, again, some kind of lawlessness, a new principle,
      entered into life.


      Once you get this far, really, there is no place else to go – that’s
      the end of that. That is why Solzhenitsyn has this feeling that
      something is coming to an end, because you cannot keep going down.
      Something else has to happen. Either there has to be an explosion – a
      totally new principle has to enter in, like when Christianity came in
      Roman times and totally transformed everything – or else, if
      something new does not happen, then the whole civilization simply
      winds down, and that is the end of it.


      In the realm of moral teaching, it is quite noticeable, especially in
      the last twenty years or so, how lawlessness has become the norm.
      Even people in high positions within the clergy of liberal
      denominations – usually of Catholics, Protestants, and so forth – are
      sometimes quite willing to justify all kinds of things which before
      would have been considered immoral; now they are considered according
      to a new morality – “situation ethics,” and so forth.

      Whereas most civilized people (and even wild pagan tribes) had a
      fairly good sense of right and wrong and decent behavior up at least
      to the Second World War, since then the philosophy has taken hold of
      many that one can “do whatever one feels like,” and even so-called
      Christians justify and promote behavior that until now was everywhere
      considered a total loss of decent standards, not only Christian but
      even just human. This is a deep sign of lawlessness in contemporary
      society. This could not happen wherever people have basic religious
      and moral views of any kind. It is a direct result of the abandonment
      of Christianity and the “falling away” from Truth.


      This is a sign of what St. Paul calls the “mystery of lawlessness,” –
      a mystery in that it is something which is not fully revealed in this
      world; it is something which comes from the other world. The “mystery
      of righteousness” is the whole story of how God came from heaven and
      became incarnate in order to save us. The “mystery of lawlessness” is
      the opposite: it is a mystery coming up from hell, which breaks into
      this world and changes it. Therefore, this is the mystery of
      lawlessness or anarchy which is preparing for the coming of the “man
      of lawlessness,” who is Antichrist.


      Even in politics and government – which make no sense at all unless
      you have the idea of order – the idea of lawlessness is entering. If
      you look at how the world is divided, you see that almost half of the
      world now is in the Communist camp. And Communism, if you look at it
      objectively, is a very strange form of political/economic order,
      because it makes no sense. As far as politics is concerned, it is
      tyranny, which the Communists claim to be against. As far as
      economics is concerned, it does not work, and yet the whole point of
      installing it is to make it work better than capitalism. Therefore,
      from the point of view of those who introduced Communism into the
      world governments, it makes no sense because it does not accomplish
      what it means to accomplish and because it produces the slave states
      that Solzhenitsyn writes about very eloquently. And yet it takes over
      the world. The rest of the world seems to be falling into this, or at
      least powerless to stop the movement of Communism. What is the reason
      for that?Communism as the precursor of Antichrist


      Now I will say a word about Communism. It is not simply a system of
      politics or economics. Politically, it holds together only by terror,
      by the Gulag. For anyone who wants to understand what is happening in
      the world today, Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago, tells
      exactly what life was like in Russia for sixty years and in other
      countries for thirty years or less, and what is coming to the rest of
      the world. It is written very humanely. Solzhenitsyn does not have
      any bitterness about what happened; he has suffered through it
      himself and gives a very accurate description of what it is all
      about. Economically, it fails. Solzhenitsyn points out that the
      Tsarist government exported wheat, while the Soviets have to import
      wheat – to name just one of their failures. The two most serious
      “accomplishments” of the Soviet Union are the building (after
      stealing Western secrets) and stockpiling of enough weapons to
      destroy life on earth, and its network of prison camps – the Gulag.


      But how can people believe in this Marxist system? If you do believe
      in it, you have to admit that it is a very strange philosophy. It is
      not an ordinary philosophy, such as that it is better to have the
      people vote or that it is better to have one monarch over many
      people; it is not simple like that at all. It is like a dream world,
      a fantasy world. It is like the movements which were common in the
      16th century. Someone would proclaim himself to be Jesus Christ or
      the prophet of Jesus Christ, and people would begin to follow him. He
      would cause a big uprising, there would be a peasant revolt, and
      finally the prince would come along and chop them all down, and
      everybody would be peaceful again. But in the meantime, he had gotten
      the whole country excited, and people had thought that some kind of
      great religious thing was happening.


      Communism has this same idea – only now without God. If you examine
      it, it is actually a chiliastic idea – that Paradise is coming to
      earth, just ahead of us. It is very interesting to read about the
      beginning of the Communist movement in the 19th century, because the
      writings of its early “prophets,” such as Fourier in France, are
      absolutely fantastic nonsense. Fourier talks about the coming age of
      world peace and prosperity, when all the fountains will be
      overflowing with pink lemonade, and we will pick meat chops from
      trees, and all kinds of fantastic things.


      One wonders how people could take this seriously. But they did. Even
      Marx was inspired by this in the beginning, until he finally became
      mature and saw that, since this was all made up of fairy tales, he
      had to place it on a “scientific” basis. Therefore, he developed what
      is called “scientific materialism.” He then set forth the means of
      bringing this into reality by overthrowing the bourgeois governments.
      But when he comes into power, what is his answer? He promises
      actually the same thing that those earlier sectarians were promising.
      Even Lenin, at the foundation of Russian Communism, had this idea:
      first of all, there is the revolution – you change society, overthrow
      and kill all the kings, the middle class, and so forth; you take all
      their possessions, and give power to the workers. (That’s a very
      vague thing: the “workers.” The workers were the first to go to
      prison.) You give power supposedly to the “people,” but actually it
      is only a few who take it over for them, holding it for them, as it
      were, because they are not yet able to take care of it themselves.
      And after a certain number of years this so-called Dictatorship of
      the Proletariat withers away, and then people become peaceful, happy,
      contented, and there are no more problems.


      Someone even asked Lenin what would happen if somebody were to have a
      religious idea or want to go back to the old-fashioned ways of doing
      things. They asked him: “Won’t you need a police department at
      least?” And he said: “There will be no need for a police department
      because the people themselves will be so changed under the new
      conditions of society that, when anybody has a non-social idea, he
      will be automatically squashed like a bug by the people themselves.”
      In other words, the people will be so happy that they will take the
      initiative in squashing others, and there will be no need for police,
      or armies, or anything of the sort. This is an absolute fairy tale!
      And this is what Communist ideology is based upon. It is a very
      strange political philosophy. It partakes of the same principle of
      lawlessness; it is a kind of lawlessness which pretends to be
      orderly. It is a forerunner of the coming of Antichrist.


      The reason why Communism takes over the world is not because it is
      much “smarter” than capitalism or democracies or anything of the
      sort. It is because in the West there is a spiritual vacuum, and when
      this vacuum is present Communism simply marches in, taking one little
      territory after the other until, at present, it has conquered nearly
      half the world.


      But Communism does not have the final answer because it is a very
      negative thing. In fact, if you look at what has been happening in
      Russia in the last ten or twenty years, you can see that there is a
      full revolt, as far as the people’s mentality is concerned; it is
      against this whole system of Communism. Although the dictatorship is
      just as strong as ever, and although the secret police is very strong
      and is everywhere, nonetheless, the people are rising up more and
      more. That is, they are rising up not in armed revolt but in their
      minds, and are becoming independent. This means that sooner or later
      the whole system is going to collapse.


      And so Communism does not have the answer; it cannot conquer the
      whole world and then bring peace and happiness as it claims it can.
      But in the meantime it is preparing for one very important thing
      which has to happen before the end of the world can come, and that is
      that there has to be one, unified world government from which
      Christianity has somehow been kicked out. And that Communism has been
      doing very successfully.
      Other signs - the UN, the Jews, false miracles


      However, in order to supply people with a “spiritual” basis for one
      world government, there has to be something higher than Communism. A
      spiritual philosophy is needed to unite all men. The chiliastic
      philosophy of the “free world” supplies a part of this element, and
      in the idea of the United Nations, for example, we see something
      which looks like a spiritual answer.


      The very existence of such an organization as the U.N., which is to
      unite all the governments of the world, is a sign of our times. The
      speeches and propaganda of the U.N. are filled with chiliastic ideas,
      vaguely based on Christianity but without Christian dogmas: it
      strives for permanent world peace, no more wars – which of course is
      possible only if human nature changes and becomes different from what
      it is now. St. Paul spoke of one of the signs of the end: “The day of
      the Lord will come like a thief in the night. For when people will
      say,’There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come
      upon them” (1 Thes. 5:2-3). Never has there been more talk of “peace
      and security” than today. One of the chief organs of the U.N. is the
      Security Council, and organizations for “world peace” are everywhere.
      It men do achieve finally a semblance of “peace and security,” it
      would seem to contemporary man to be a state like heaven on earth – a
      millennium. The practical way to do this is to unite all governments
      under one. For the first time in history such a ideal becomes a
      possible goal of practical politics – a world ruler is conceivable
      now. For the first time, the Antichrist becomes an historical
      possibility.


      The U.N. claims to be for the foundation of one world government
      which will not be a tyranny, based not on any particular idea like
      Communism, but on something very vague, with no particular Christian
      basis. In fact, about twenty years ago they built a meditation chapel
      in the U.N. building, and at that time they had a big discussion
      about what would be the object of worship in it. If you have a Cross,
      you’re immediately branded as Christian; you can’t have anything
      Moslem or Hindu because again you’re also identified. It has to be
      above all religions. Finally they decided upon a black stone block.
      If you go there and bow down to it, it is like bowing down to an
      idol. But this indicates a very vague kind of religious interest. But
      such a vague thing is exactly what the devil likes to grab hold of.
      In any particular religious belief you may be mistaken, but at least
      you put your heart to it, and God can forgive all kinds of mistakes.
      But if you do not have any particular religious belief and you give
      yourself over to some kind of vague idea, then the demons come in and
      begin to act.


      For example: after being conservative, even anti-revolutionary,
      during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Roman Popes have now
      come close to joining the revolution, as Dostoyevsky predicted they
      would in the 19th century. Roman Catholicism has become a great
      worldly institution preaching the same chiliasm as the
      representatives of the U.N. Pope Paul VI’s visit to the U.N. in New
      York in 1965 reveals this clearly. He was given a hero’s welcome in
      New York by the American people, mostly non-Catholics, precisely
      because he is seen as the most eminent religious figure who preaches
      the chiliast dream which is now so strong in the air. In his speech
      at the U.N., the Pope justified these expectations, and called on the
      U.N. to bring about the prophecies of Holy Scripture concerning when
      swords will be turned into plowshares and the lion will down with the
      lamb – in a millennial kingdom on earth.


      Another sign that the end times are approaching is the present state
      of the Jews in Israel, in the city of Jerusalem. According to the
      prophecies of Scriptures and the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church,
      Jerusalem will be the world capital of Antichrist, and there he will
      rebuild the temple of Solomon where he will be worshipped as God.
      There are events that are to come right before the very end of the
      world. Of course, it is very significant that only since 1948 has
      Jerusalem been once more in the hands of the Jews, and only since
      1967 has the place where the temple was, the Mosque of Omar, been in
      their hands, since this had been in the part held by the Moslems.
      Therefore, all that prevents them – that is, technically – from
      building the temple is this Mosque of Omar. If they can destroy the
      mosque, they can erect the temple on this site. It is also
      significant that Jerusalem is now constantly in the news. The Jews
      have returned to Palestine for the first time since Christ. This
      makes it possible for the Antichrist to come first to the Jews, as
      the prophecies state, and then rule the whole world from Jerusalem.
      And the very idea of chiliasm comes from the Jews, because they
      rejected Christ just because He did not establish a worldly kingdom.


      If you were to ask anyone who is aware at all of political events in
      the world a question: “What would be the ideal city to have as the
      world capital if there’s going to be a world empire?” – it is obvious
      what the answer would be in most people’s minds. It cannot be New
      York, because that is the center of capitalism; it cannot be Moscow,
      because that is the center of Communism. It cannot even be Rome,
      because Roman Catholicism is still some kind of limited tradition.
      The logical place is Jerusalem, because there three religions come
      together, three continents come together. It is the most logical
      place where could be peace, brotherhood, and harmony: all those
      things which look good, but unless they have a solid Christian
      foundation are not God-pleasing – those things which can be used by
      Antichrist.


      Another aspect of the Jewish question is that many young Jews are
      becoming interested in Christianity, because among Jews also there is
      the same kind of religious seeking and problems that occur among
      other people. Some of them are being converted to Christianity, and
      some of them are coming to Orthodoxy. This is already a sign, a
      preparation for the fact that at the end of time the Jews will be
      restored to Christianity, to Christ. St. Paul expresses this by
      saying that, if the falling away of the Jews meant “riches” to the
      Gentiles – because when the Jews fell away the Gentiles were invited
      into the Church – then the restoration of Israel will be like a
      rising from the dead. And this event will come right before the end.


      We should say a word about Antichrist. He is not simply a cruel
      dictator who is anti-Christian. I think most people, when they think
      of Antichrist, think of someone like Hitler, who was a persecutor, or
      Stalin, who persecuted Christians and was against religion. But that
      is not what Antichrist is, though he has that aspect. “Anti” means
      not just “against”; it means “in place of.” He will be someone who
      will come and take the place of Christ; it says quite clearly that he
      will be in the temple of Jerusalem, worshipped as God. You don’t go
      and worship an ordinary dictator; at least, the whole world could not
      very easily do that. But he will come as a world dictator who is
      accepted as God, as someone very positive; thus he will try, in every
      possible way, to imitate Christ, to take the place of Christ.


      Therefore, the Apostle emphasize very strongly in their warning about
      the end of the world that we must beware of deception. St. Paul says
      in II Thessalonians 2:9-11: “The coming of the lawless one, by the
      activity of Satan, will be with all power and sings and lying
      wonders… God shall send (that is, allow) a strong delusion, that men
      should believe a lie.” That is, it will be something very deceptive.


      In fact, we know that the elect themselves might be deceived if the
      times will not be cut short. Christ Himself warns, in speaking of the
      last days, that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and show
      great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the
      elect” (Matt. 24:24). And in the Apocalypse, St. John states that the
      last times will be characterized by “demonic spirits working wonders”
      (Apoc. 16:14). Therefore, one of the sings of the coming of the end
      is the multiplication of demonic signs and wonders, i.e. false
      miracles and things of that sort.


      Do we see any signs of satanic activity, miracles and signs that are
      leading people astray today? Yes, this has become one of the leading
      characteristics especially of the last decades. I mean in particular,
      for example, the increase in the last several decades of outright
      Satanism – Satan-worship – which only in these last twenty years or
      so has achieved such openness and notoriety. People openly call
      themselves witches. Perhaps few call themselves Satanists, but it has
      become a recognized religion in our society, and very many are
      seriously involved in the practice of witchcraft. (The widely
      publicized ritual murders of recent years are only the surface of a
      deep current of evil and demon-worship.)


      Eastern religions, physics, UFOs



      Another example is the greatly increased interest in Eastern
      religions, which in these past two or three decades have become
      tremendously fashionable. Now there are Western-born, American and
      English gurus and Zen masters, and so forth. And people take it quite
      seriously. All these Eastern things have become quite an American
      institution, with people bowing down to the ground before Maharaj-ji
      and others who proclaim themselves to be God. This has been quite
      unheard of until the last two or three decades. And these are
      ordinary, idealistic Americans who are quite capable of bowing to the
      ground before Maharaj-ji.


      Interest in Eastern religions has been present for a hundred years
      and more in the West, and has been gaining especially in the 20th
      century; but it has always been a fringe movement in society, and
      only in the last decade or so have we seen the institution of native
      Western temples and monasteries, with seemingly normal American young
      men and women bowing to the ground before Buddhist and Hindu gods…


      Eastern religions have obviously gone deep into the Western soul.
      Their appeal is understandable: Western Christianity, especially
      Protestantism but also Catholicism in recent years, has been deprived
      of the element of the true worship of God which Orthodoxy has, and
      the human soul feels empty. Also, most Eastern religions offer a
      rather simple kind of “peace” through meditation or chanting which is
      not as demanding as true Christianity, since the latter gives one a
      peace not of this world and prepares one for eternal life in a
      Kingdom not of this world.


      In Western Christianity – because the element of the true worship of
      God which Orthodoxy preserved has been lost – there has occurred a
      reaction, which takes the form of the searching after signs. This is
      very strong in the “charismatic” movement. Quite a few spectacular
      things happen: people speak in tongues, they give so-called
      prophecies, there are some kind of “healings,” and so on. These are
      not in accordance with what we Orthodox Christians know of real
      spiritual life. It is a whole false outlook on spiritual life, which
      causes people to seen these things and to attain them.


      And of course, there “transcendental meditation” and other such ways
      of seeking “peace” – a this-worldly feeling of contentment which has
      nothing to do with true spiritual striving


      Then one could name all kinds of occult and paranormal phenomena
      which are so prevalent in our times. Research into various kinds of
      extrasensory perception (ESP) is very strong in the Soviet Union,
      probably much more so than in America. In the Soviet Union, people
      who claim to be atheists allow and in fact promote research into
      things like mental telepathy, hypnotism, faith-healing, prophecies,
      auras of plants and humans, the action of mind over matter, etc. They
      take special photographs, attempting to see the boundary between
      matter and psyche. All kinds of weird things come up in the midst of
      these experiments. One contemporary psychic, Uri Geller, whom you
      have probably heard about, is able to bend spoons by looking intently
      at them, and he claims he gets his power from beings in outer space.


      Some people, of course, hear about this and laugh. They think it is
      very funny that people are so stupid as to think things like that.
      But the phenomena which are occurring are quite real. The
      descriptions which people give of them have a remarkable similarity
      to what we Orthodox Christians know in the ancient Lives of Saints –
      especially the descriptions of phenomena given by people who claim to
      be abducted by UFO spacecrafts and so forth. Whatever you might think
      about these stories, what they describe is exactly what we have heard
      described in Lives of Saints as to how demons operate, i.e. their
      remarkable ability to switch from matter to psyche, to instantly
      vanish or appear, or to move very quickly from one place to the
      other. This is the way the demons operate, and this is the way these
      so-called space beings operate also. It is very interesting that
      demons come back into modern history through this means.


      The subject of the flying saucers – the UFOs – is very much part of
      the atmosphere of our times. Science-fiction literature is very
      popular both in the free West and in the USSR. Several recent movies
      with science-fiction themes have been enormously popular: several
      years ago there was 2001: A Space Odyssey and the television series
      Star Trek, and just now there is Star Wars and Close Encounters of
      the Third Kind. Therefore, whether or not there are actual flying
      saucers and flying-saucer people, this phenomenon is a significant
      indicator of what people are feeling and thinking now.


      One sober investigator has examined in great detail many of the best
      cases of supposed sightings and landings of UFOs, and he says that
      with few exceptions they can be explained by other means, or are
      fraudulent. He calls UFOs a “fairy tale for grown-ups,” because
      20th-century man – i.e. humanist, agnostic, or atheist – has lost
      other supposed fairy tales.


      But at the same time many people claim not merely to have seen them,
      but to have contracted beings in them and been kidnapped or ridden
      with them. If one reads a few descriptions of such contacts (this is
      what is called “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), reads
      contemporary science-fiction or sees some of today’s movies, one gets
      a strange feeling: here are described strange beings, some of them
      almost human but much more “advanced,” able to do extraordinary
      things like turning sticks into swords, causing themselves and others
      to disappear, assuming different shapes at will, flying through the
      air, probing into the mind, or creating whole imaginary scenes before
      one’s eyes. Perhaps for modern man this is all “fairy tales,” but for
      an Orthodox Christian the phenomena which appear in these very
      popular literary and artistic forms are very familiar – most of them
      can be found in the Lives of Saints and are often a very realistic
      description of the way demons act.


      Most contemporary men, of course, laugh at the mention of demons –
      but this is precisely what they are describing and seeing under the
      guise of “extra-terrestrial intelligences” or “flying-saucer aliens.”


      Some recent books by Evangelical Protestants suggest that the best
      explanation of UFOs is that encounters with them – when they are real
      and not fraudulent – are actually encounters with demons who contact
      men in accordance with the ideas and expectations of the times. What
      is significant for us is that many ordinary people today consider it
      possible or desirable to enter into contact with “advanced beings”
      from other worlds – this is exactly what demons are, and increased
      contact with them is precisely one of the characteristics of the
      period towards the end of the world.<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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