Orthodox Christians in the modern world
- Dear list,
Here is another text from Vladika Averky (probably most people
remember it) which is very acurate for our times and could be helpful
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS IN THE MODERN WORLD
We are living in a strange time, when all the true and healthy
Christian concepts are being replaced by false and deceitful
concepts, discovered often with an evil intention with the undoubted
intention, naturally, of drawing people away from the right path of a
truly Christian life. In all of this there can be discerned some kind
of rationally acting black hand which is working to bind people as
tightly as possible to this temporary, earthly life by forcing them
to forget the future life, the eternal life assuredly awaiting us all.
+++We must be clearly aware of the kind of time in which we live.
Indeed, only a spiritually blind roan, or one who had already sold
his soul to the enemies of our holy faith and Church, could fail to
sense the spirit of the approaching Antichrist in everything which is
now happening in the world. Of what sort of genuine union of all
Christians in the spirit of Christian love can one speak now when the
Truth is denied by almost everyone, when deceit is in control almost
everywhere, when a genuinely spiritual life among people who call
themselves Christians has dried up and been replaced by a carnal
life, an animal life which has nonetheless been placed on a pedestal
and concealed by the idea of pretended charity which hypocritically
justifies any sort of spiritual excess, any sort of moral anarchy.
Indeed it is from this that are derived all these numberless "balls,"
various kinds of "games," "dances" and amusements toward which,
despite their immoral, anti-Christian nature, even my modern
clergymen have a tolerant attitude, sometimes even organizing diem
themselves and participating in them.
+++ A terrible, unrelieved, hopeless unscrupulousness has taken
possession of many people.
The true doctrine of the faith and the Church for which the
first Christians died in such tortures has become a hollow sound for
the majority of modern "Christians." They neither know this doctrine,
nor do they desire to know it, for they are indifferent to it.
Dull, cold indifference to almost anything which bears the
imprint of ideological content and seeking in everything only one's
own personal advantage ¾ this is the character of our time.
This lack of ideological content, this unscrupulousness
accompanied by departure from the true faith and the Church and by
indifference to them is the basic, fundamental sin of which we,
Russian Orthodox Christians, must repent.
It is not for us to enjoy ourselves, to amuse ourselves, to
dance on the grave of Russia, brought down to its deathbed by us, but
rather to repent in tears, really to repent, as the Holy Church
teaches us, with a firm intention to change our life radically, to
renew our spirit.
As salt preserves food from decay and makes it healthful and
pleasant to the taste, so too true Christians preserve the world from
moral decay and facilitate its return to health.
But if the salt "loses its savor," as the Gospel says,
i.e. "loses its strength" (in the East there actually is a kind of
salt which can lose its taste), then it becomes good for nothing
except to be "thrown out to be trodden under foot of men" (cf. the
Gospel reading for the third day of the feast of Pentecost ¾ Matt.
How terrible this is! And we find ourselves living in such
times when the tendency dominating the world is directed toward
making all Christians such "salt which has lost its savor," once it
has abolished the true Church of Christ derived from the Holy
Apostles and thus has deprived Christians of the grace of the Holy
This is the so very fashionable, so-called "ecumenical
movement," which is based tin the position that supposedly the true
Church of Christ does not presently exist on earth and it is
necessary to create it anew...through the unification of all
Christians belonging to various "churches" and confessional
associations and organizations; this will be done by various mutual
concessions in matters of doctrine and the development of a new,
common system of doctrine acceptable to all and, along with it, of
course, a new world view.
And the opinion, extremely popular in our times, that "it's all
the same which church you go to; after all, God is one" is in
agreement with this tendency.
Yes! God is one, but, you know, He also gave us one faith; He
created one Church for us, not many different faiths and "churches."
This is confirmed by the holy Apostle Paul when he says, "One Lord,
one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all," and so we
Christians should form "one body and one spirit," as we are called
to "in one hope of our calling" (Eph. 4:4-6).
If there is only one true faith and only one true Church, then
as a consequence all other faiths and "churches" are false, not true.
How then can anyone say that all faiths and "churches" are of
equal value and that "it is all the same which church you go to."
Therefore one can and must speak not of the ecumenical
unification of everyone for the creation of some new Church, but only
of the restoration of union between all who have fallen away and the
one true Church of Christ to which Christ the Savior Himself gave the
great and sure promise that "the gates of hell will not prevail
against it" (Matt. 16:18).
Oh, how great now is the dulling of conscience even of those people
who consider themselves believers ¾ the clouding of their minds and
hearts, so that seeing, they do not see, and hearing, they do not
hear, neither do they understand with their heart, as the holy
prophet said (Isaiah 9:10).
This is the "hardening of hearts" of which he spoke.
But there is in our days an even more terrible phenomenon,
encountered more and more often: a more or less conscious decision,
for the sake of earthly goods and advantages, to serve the coming
This is the most extreme degree of falling away, from which it
is very difficult to arise.
The fundamental task of the servants of the coming Antichrist
is to destroy the old world with all its former concepts
and "prejudices" in order to built in its place a new world suitable
for receiving its approaching "new owner" who will take the place of
Christ for people and give them on earth that which Christ did not
give them ....
One must be completely blind spiritually, completely alien to
true Christianity not to understand all this!
Zeal for God, zeal for the Truth is not "phariseeism," just
as "humility" before the enemies. of God, the enemies of the Church,
before diabolical Evil, is not the true and saving humility of the
Publican, but just destructive self-deception, leading to the depths
In our times, when there are such strong doubts about even the
existence of Truth, when every "truth" is considered relative and it
is considered proper for each person to hold to "his own truth," the
struggle for the Truth acquires a particularly important meaning. And
the person who does not sympathize with this struggle, who sees in it
only a manifestation of "phariseeism" and suggests "humbling oneself"
before Falsehood by falling away from the Truth, should naturally be
recognized as a betrayer of the Truth, whoever he might be, whatever
he might call or consider himself.
For us modern Christians faith, for the most part, is being
divorced from life: we do not live in full agreement with the
teachings and demands of our faith. Our faith so clearly and so
definitely teaches us to renounce everything corruptible and earthly
and to concentrate with all our thoughts and feelings on the
incorruptible eternal life awaiting us. Theoretically, perhaps, we
accept this (although of late there has appeared a special current
of "neo-Christianity" which does not even want to accept this
theoretically, but has thought up a completely new, heretofore
unknown pseudo-Christian world view aimed at binding man more firmly
to an earth which supposedly has been transfigured and sanctified by
Christ's coming into the world), we admit the end of the world, the
Second Coming of Christ, the Last Judgment, and the future life, but
in practice we live and act as if none of this is to be expected and
we have only to make ourselves comfortable here on earth by providing
for ourselves all sorts of good things and conveniences. We do not
really want to think about the death which unavoidably awaits every
one of us and we do not prepare ourselves as we ought for the future
eternal life before us.
Peace!.. peace!.. peace!.. is heard now from every
side: "mutual disarmament!..peaceful coexistence!.. we shall struggle
for peace!.. everyone in defense of peace!.."
How wonderful it would be, what a bright and joyful future it
would promise for mankind if only these appeals had in mind that
peace of which the angels sang on the night of Christ's Birth: "glory
to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men!" (Luke
2:14); if only it were that peace which the Savior Christ promised to
His disciples at the Last Supper when He said, "My peace I leave with
you, My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27); if only it were
that "peace of God which passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7)
which, at the Lord's command, the Apostles transmitted to the first
Christians, which they were taught to seek (I Peter 3:11), and which
they were encouraged to have with God and with all people (Rom. 5:1;
12:18). How gratifying it would be to hear them if these appeals came
from people of whose sincerity we could not have the slightest doubt,
whose words we could trust completely ¾ from people who were really
convinced that the highest good in life is precisely that peace ¾
peace with God, peace with one's own conscience, and peace with one's
neighbors in the name Of God.
But alas! It is not of such peace that people are talking now.
All these frequently unnatural and pompous speeches and at
times hysterical cries for peace for the whole world come at the
present time for the most part from people who are either far from
true Christianity or are directly opposed to the Church ¾ from people
who do not live at peace with God and with their own consciences, but
are filled with spite in their relations with their neighbors.
Can we believe in the sincerity of speeches about peace when
they are pronounced by people who in principle deny faith in God and
love for their neighbors and do not recognize the voice of conscience?
Can we believe that people are really working toward peace when
with open and bold blasphemy they have declared war on God Himself
and His Holy Church?
When quite recently they did not hide the fact that their aim
was to "stir up a worldwide conflagration"? When they openly
preach "class hatred" as the basis of their ideology and are not in
the least ashamed to pour out whole oceans of blood and to
exterminate millions of people just for the suspicion that they
disagree with their ideology?
Can we likewise believe in the sincere love for peace of those
who in their words unctuously and cloyingly preach "Christian love"
and "total forgiveness," while in their actions they sow disturbances
and discord and, by spreading lies and slander, create hostility and
divisions, stirring people up against their neighbors?
Can one in general believe that any sort of secure and reliable
peace can be established on earth with the crude flouting of God's
Truth, with the lies and hypocrisy which are so clearly
characteristic of the life of modern mankind?
Where the Truth of God is lacking there cannot be genuine peace.
While struggling resolutely against the most minute
manifestations of evil and sin in our own souls, let us not fear to
uncover and point out evil everywhere where it is to be found in
modern life ¾ not from pride and self-love, but only out of love for
the truth. Our chief task. in this evil time of lying shamelessness
is to remain totally faithful and devoted to the genuine truth of the
Gospel and to the author of our salvation, Christ, the Giver of life
Who rose on the third day from the tomb, the Conqueror of hell and
One must know well and remember that Tolstoy's harmful doctrine
of "non-resistance to evil" is completely foreign to true
Christianity (by the way, this doctrine destroyed our unfortunate
homeland, Russia, and plunged it into the terrible, bloody horrors of
Bolshevism): no true Christian can be reconciled to evil, wherever
and in whomever he might encounter it.
All true Christians throughout the whole history of the Church
have followed the example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and His
Holy Apostles and have always condemned evil and struggled against
it, even though this might cause them all sorts of severe
deprivations and even cost them life itself