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"IN STEP WITH THE TIMES?"

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the faithful
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2005
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      Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from
      the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the
      faithful consciously and willingly turn away from God, so the unbelievers
      unconsciously and unwillingly become servants of God; the whip of God.

      Saint Nikolai Velimirovic


      SHOULD THE CHURCH BE

      "IN STEP WITH THE TIMES?"

      By ARCHBISHOP AVERKY



      Even this material is written more than 3 decades ago it is becaming more
      and more instructive and important to all sincere seekers of Truth ,as the
      process of Apostassy from Christ is getting worse and worse daily....

      May Lord preserve the remainder of those who are faithful to Him but that
      number is getting smaller and smaller ..daily...St Ignatii Brianchaninov

      In a time when under the name of Christianity, even Orthodox Christianity,
      every kind of compromise and surrogate is offered men whose spiritual
      hunger can be satisfied only by uncompromising Truth, the spiritual
      shepherds have become few who speak straightforwardly the saving word.
      Archbishop Averky, Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, New
      York, and a leading hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, is one of these
      few. In the pages of the Russian religious newspaper published by the
      Monastery, Orthodox Russia, his voice is continually heard, calling for
      faithfulness to Holy Orthodoxy and warning of the impending judgment of
      God on this evil generation.

      "Know that we must serve, not the times, but God."
      ST. ATHANASIUS THE GREAT, Letter to Dracontius

      IN STEP WITH THE TIMES!—Behold the watchword of all those who in our time
      so intensely strive to lead the Church of Christ away from Christ, to lead
      Orthodoxy away from true confession of the Orthodox Christian Faith.
      Perhaps this watchword does not always nor with everyone resound so
      loudly, clearly, and openly—this, after all, might push some away!—The
      important thing is the practical following of this watchword in life, the
      striving in one way or another, in greater or lesser degree and measure,
      to put it into practice.

      Against this fashionable, "modern" watchword, perilous to souls however it
      may be proclaimed or however put into practice, openly or under cover, we
      cannot but fight—we who are faithful sons and representatives of the
      Russian Church Abroad, the whole essence of whose ideology, in the name of
      which it exists in the world, is not to be "in step with the times," but
      to preserve an unchanging faithfulness to Christ the Saviour, to the true
      Orthodox Christian Faith and Church.

      Let us recall how the Blessed Metropolitan Anthony, founder and first head
      of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, in his remarkable essay, "How does
      the Orthodox Faith differ from the Western Confessions?" wrote concerning
      the profound difference between our Faith and heterodoxy. He finds this
      profound difference in the fact that the Orthodox Faith teaches how to
      construct life according to the demands of Christian perfection, whereas
      heterodoxy takes from Christianity only those things which are, and to the
      degree to which they are, compatib1e with the conditions of contemporary
      cultural life. "Orthodoxy looks upon Christianity as the eternal
      foundation of true life and demands of everyone to force himself and life
      until they attain this standard; whereas heterodoxy looks upon the
      foundations of contemporary cultural life as an unshakable fact. Orthodoxy
      demands moral heroism—podvig; heterodoxy searches for what in Christianity
      would be useful to us in our present conditions of life. For Orthodox man,
      called to eternity beyond the grave, where true life begins, the
      historically-formed mechanism of contemporary life is an insubstantial
      phantom; whereas for the heterodox the teaching concerning the future life
      is a lofty, ennobling idea, an idea which helps one ever better to
      construct real life here."

      These are golden words, indicating for us clearly and sharply the truly
      bottomless abyss that separates genuine Christian faith—Orthodoxy—from its
      mutilation—heterodoxy!

       In the one is to be found ascetic labor (podvig), a turning to eternity;
      in the other, a strong attachment to the earth, a faith in the progress of
      mankind on earth.

      Further, as Metropolitan Anthony so sharply and justly sets forth, "the
      Orthodox Faith is an ascetic faith," and "the blessed state which the
      worshippers of the 'superstition of progress' (to use the felicitous
      expression of S. A. Rachinsky) expect on earth, was promised by the Saviour
      in the future life; but neither the Latins nor the Protestants desire to
      reconcile themselves to this, for the simple reason—to speak frankly—that
      they poorly believe in the resurrection and strongly believe in happiness
      in the present life, which, on the contrary, the Apostles call a vapor
      that shall vanish away (James 4:14). This is why the pseudo-Christian West
      does not wish and is unable to understand the renunciation of this life by
      Christianity, which enjoins us to fight, having put off the old man with
      his deeds, and having put on the new man, that is renewed unto knowledge
      after the image of Him that created him (Col. 3: 9-l0).

      "If we investigate all the errors of the West." Vladika Anthony writes
      further, "both those which have entered into its doctrinal teaching and
      those present in its morals, we shall see that they are all rooted in a
      failure to understand Christianity as ascetic labor (podvig) involving the
      gradual self-perfection of man."

      "Christianity is an ascetic religion," concludes this excellent,
      forcefully and perspicuously-written essay. "Christianity is a teaching of
      constant battling with the passions, of the means and conditions for the
      gradual assimilation of virtues. These conditions are both
      internal-ascetic labors—and given from without—our dogmatic beliefs and
      grace-bestowing sacramental actions, which have one purpose: to heal human
      sinfulness and raise us to perfection."

      And what do we see now in contemporary "Orthodoxy"—the "Orthodoxy" that
      has entered into the so-called "Ecumenical Movement"? We see the complete
      negation of the above-cited holy truths; in other words: renunciation of
      true Orthodoxy in the interest of spiritual fusion with the heterodox
      West. The ''Orthodoxy'' that has placed itself on the path of "Ecumenism"
      thinks not of raising contemporary life, which is constantly declining
      with regard to religion and morals, to the level of the Gospel
      commandments and the demands of the Church, but rather of ''adapting" the
      Church herself to the level of this declining life.

      This path of actual renunciation of the very essence of Holy
      Orthodoxy—ascetic labor, for the purpose of uprooting the passions and
      implanting the virtues—was taken in their time by the partisans of the
      so-called "Living Church" or ''Renovated Church". This movement
      immediately spread from Russia, which had been cast down into the dust by
      the ferocious atheists, to other Orthodox countries as well. Still fresh
      in our memory is the "Pan-Orthodox Congress" convened by Ecumenical
      Patriarch Meletios IV of sorry memory in 1923, at which were devised such
      "reforms" as a married episcopate, remarriage of priests, the abolition of
      monasticism and the fasts, abbreviation of Divine services, suppression of
      special dress for clergy, etc.

      Notwithstanding the collapse at that time of these impious designs, the
      dark powers were not, of course, pacified, and continued from that time
      their obstinate and perseverant activity, finding for themselves obedient
      tools in the ranks of the hierarchy of various Local Orthodox Churches. At
      the present time also, by the allowance of God, they have attained great
      success: almost all the Local Orthodox Churches have already entered into
      the "Ecumenical Movement," which has set as its purpose the abolition of
      all presently-existing churches—including, of course, the Orthodox
      Church—and the establishment of some kind of absolutely new "church,"
      which will be completely "in step with the times," having cast away as
      useless rags, as something "obsolete" and "behind the times," all the
      genuine foundations of true Christianity, and first of all, of course,
      asceticism, this being the indispensable condition for the main purpose of
      Christianity: the uprooting of sinful passions and the implanting of
      Christian virtues.

      We have before us, as an example, an official document of this sort,
      belonging to the Local Church of Serbia: the journal Theology, published
      by the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Belgrade (8th year, issues 1 and 2
      for 1964). In this journal we find a lead article literally entitled: "The
      Necessity for the Codification and Publication of a New Collection of
      Canons of the Orthodox Church." The author of this article, while cunningly
      affirming that "the ideal principles of the Church will remain everywhere
      and always unchanging," nonetheless attempts to prove that the collection
      of canons of the Orthodox Church is only the product of a time long since
      passed into eternity, and therefore that it does not answer to the demands
      of contemporary life and must be abolished and replaced by another. This
      new collection of canons, observe, "must be brought into agreement with
      the fundamental principles of life," with which the Church supposedly "has
      always reckoned." "Our time," says this cunning author, "is different in
      many respects from the time of the Ecumenical Councils, at which these
      canons were composed, and therefore these canons cannot now be applied."

      Let us look now and see precisely which canons it is that this modernist
      author considers obsolete and subject to abrogation:

      —The 9th canon of the Holy Apostles, which demands that the faithful,
      after entering church, should remain at the Divine service to the end, and
      should not cause disorder by walking about the church.

      —The 80th canon of the Council of Trullo, which punishes clergy by
      deposition, and laymen with excommunication, for failure to attend church
      for three successive Sundays without some important reason.

      —The 24th canon of the Council of Trullo, which prohibits clergy and monks
      from visiting race tracks and other entertainments; to this canon the
      author adds the entirely naive, strange remark that it was only in earlier
      times that such amusements were places of depravity and vice, while now
      they are supposedly "centers of culture and education."(?!)

      —The 54th canon of the Holy Apostles, which prohibits clergy, without
      unavoidable necessity, from entering a tavern; here again it somehow seems
      that previously the tavern was some different kind of establishment from
      what it is now.

      —The 77th canon of the Council of Trullo and the 30th canon of the Council
      of Laodicea, which prohibit Christian men from bathing together with
      women; why it is necessary to acknowledge these canons too as "obsolete" is
      completely incomprehensible!

      —The 96th canon of the Council of Trullo, which condemns artificial
      curling of the hair and in general all adornment of oneself with various
      kinds of finery "for the enticement of unstable souls"—instead of
      "adorning oneself with virtues and with good and pure morals"; this canon
      in our times, it would seem, has not only not become "obsolete," it has
      become especially imperative, if we call to mind the indecent, shameless
      womens fashions of today, which are completely unsuitable for Christian
      women.

      This is sufficient for us to see what purpose it is that the
      aforementioned "reform" in our Orthodox Church has in view, with what aim
      there is proposed the convocation of an Eighth Ecumenical Council, about
      which all "modernists" so dream, already having a foretaste of the
      "carefree life" that will then be openly permitted and legitimized for
      all!

      But let us reflect more deeply upon what is the terrible essence of all
      these demands for the abrogation of supposedly "obsolete" canonical rules.
      It is this: these contemporary church "reformers" who now so impudently
      raise their heads even in the bosom of our Orthodox Church itself (and
      terrible to say, their number includes not merely clergy, but even eminent
      hierarchs!) accept contemporary life with all its monstrous, immoral
      manifestations as an unshakable fact (which is, as we have seen above, not
      at all an Orthodox, but a heterodox, Western conception!), and they wish
      to abrogate all those canonical rules which precisely characterize
      Orthodoxy as an ascetic faith that calls to ascetic labor, in the name of
      the uprooting of sinful passions and the implanting of Christian virtues.
      This is a terrible movement, perilous for our Faith and Church; it wishes
      to cause, in the expression of Christ the Saviour, the salt to lose its
      savor; it is a movement directed toward the overthrow and annihilation of
      the true Church of Christ by means of the cunning substitution for it of a
      false church.

      The above-mentioned article in the Serbian theological journal is still
      discreet, refraining from complete openness. It speaks of the
      permissibility in principle of marriage for bishops, but in life we hear
      ever more frequent and persistent talk of far worse—namely, of the
      supposed inapplicability in our times of all those canonical rules which
      demand of candidates to the priesthood and of priests themselves a pure
      and unblemished moral life; or, to speak more simply, of the
      permissibility for them of that terrifying depravity into the abyss of
      which contemporary mankind more and more plunges itself.

      It is one thing to sin and repent, knowing and acknowledging that one is
      sinning and is in need of repentance and correction of life. It is
      something else again to legitimize lawlessness, to sanction sin, lulling
      thus one's conscience and thus abolishing the very foundations of the
      Church. To this we have no right, and it is a most grievous crime before
      God, the Holy Church, and the souls of the faithful who seek eternal
      salvation.

      And for how long, to what limits may we permit ourselves to go on such a
      slippery path, abrogating the Church canons which uphold Christian
      morality? Right now in America and, as we hear, in places also in other
      countries which have accepted contemporary "culture," there is increasing
      propaganda for the official abrogation of marriage and the legalization in
      place of marriage of "free love"; the use of contraceptive pills is being
      sanctioned for married couples, and even for the unmarried, since marriage
      supposedly has as its purpose not the procreation of children, but "love";
      legal recognition is being prepared for the heinous, unnatural passion of
      homosexuality, all the way to the establishment for homosexuals of a
      special church wedding rite (proposal of an Anglican bishop); etc., etc.

      And so? Should our Church too follow this fashionable path— "in step with
      the times," so as not to be left behind the march of life? But what kind
      of "church" will this be that will allow itself all this, or even merely
      look at it with all-forgiving condescension? It will be no longer a church
      at all, but a veritable Sodom and Gomorrah, which will not escape, sooner
      or later, the terrible chastisement of God.

      We must not allow ourselves to be deluded and deceived, for we do not need
      such a "church," or rather "false church." We may ourselves be weak, and
      feeble, and we may often sin, but we will not allow the Church canons to be
      abrogated, for then it will become necessary to acknowledge the very Gospel
      of Christ, by which contemporary men do not wish to live, as "obsolete,"
      as "not answering to the spirit of the times," and abrogate it!

      But the Gospel of Christ, together with all the canons of the Church, as
      well as the Church ordinances, outline for us that Christian ideal toward
      which we must strive if we desire for ourselves eternal salvation. We
      cannot allow a lowering of this ideal for the gratification of sinful
      passions and desires, a blasphemous abuse of these holy things.

      Whatever "reforms" all these contemporary criminal "reformers" may desire,
      the truly-believing Orthodox Church consciousness cannot acknowledge or
      accept them. And whatever the apostates from true Orthodoxy, from the
      ascetic Faith, may do, we will not allow the modernization of our Church,
      and we will NOT go "in step with the times"!

      From Orthodox Russia, Nov. 28, 1966. This article also appeared in The
      Orthodox Word, III, pp. 182-188.
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