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ReligionChristianitySectarianism in Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy in Sectarianism (2)

Sectarianism in Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy in Sectarianism (2)

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Petar Gramatikov
Petar Gramatikovhttps://europeantimes.news
Dr. Petar Gramatikov is the Editor in Chief and Director of The European Times. He is a member of the Union of Bulgarian Reporters. Dr. Gramatikov has more than 20 years of Academic experience in different institutions for higher education in Bulgaria. He also examined lectures, related to theoretical problems involved in the application of international law in religious law where a special focus has been given to the legal framework of New Religious Movements, freedom of religion and self-determination, and State-Church relations for plural-ethnic states. In addition to his professional and academic experience, Dr. Gramatikov has more than 10 years Media experience where he hold a positions as Editor of a tourism quarterly periodical “Club Orpheus” magazine – “ORPHEUS CLUB Wellness” PLC, Plovdiv; Consultant and author of religious lectures for the specialized rubric for deaf people at the Bulgarian National Television and has been Accredited as a journalist from “Help the Needy” Public Newspaper at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Written by John (Shahovskiy), archbishop of San Francisco

Translation by Peter Gramatikov

We should rejoice that by the power of the Almighty Spirit, Who “breathes where He wills,” some man has miraculously transformed his life and bears fruit to God. Is the path of the Spirit in this person not clear to us? But are we set to judge the ways of the Spirit, since the fruits of the Spirit are clear to our eyes? We are told to know by the fruits. The fruits are clearly defined by the apostle (1 Cor. 13: 4-8).

Only one sin is unforgivable – against the Holy Spirit, against love for Him. He who loves injustice, praises sin, and enjoys malice is guilty of that sin, but in no way does he confess or not confess with his mind, that is, he sees with his soul or does not see one or another truth. If I am a spiritual colorblind person and I do not see one or another color in the nature of the spiritual world, but I see the other colors exactly as everyone sees them, am I rejected? Rather, I must be the subject of special care, of special compassion. A sectarian who believes in the Holy Trinity, who believes in the need for spiritual birth, in the need for a conscious attitude to Baptism, in the need for believers not to be ashamed of their faith among the indifferent, but to confess it to all, who believe every word of St. Scripture and out of jealousy of this faith consider superfluous all other manifestations of the revelation of the Holy Spirit in the Church for nineteen centuries (revelations that do not contradict but explain what is hidden in the Gospel) – should such a sectarian be viciously persecuted by us Orthodox? What will our Orthodoxy consist of then?

But not only the sectarians – these brothers of ours in the faith in the One Savior and Redeemer of the world – we must not viciously, irritably and rudely persecute and condemn. No one should we dare to judge viciously and irritably. We can notice the error and the weakness, although we are pure ourselves, but we are co-painful. In a ruthless way, we must expel only the gross spirit of peace now from our hearts. And then our Orthodoxy will shine. Because the means is unthinkable to justify the purpose. It is not possible to defend Orthodoxy in pagan or Jewish ways. The purity of the evangelical spirit – holy Orthodoxy – must be defended evangelically, dispassionately, wisely, with great love for every soul for whom the God-man’s blood has been shed.

Throwing stones is very easy. And our old man is just looking for the permissible pretexts for that. The pretext of jealousy in faith is the most convenient. This is the protection of the great sanctuary – the purity of faith and spirit! It is here, in the defense of the sanctuary, that man must put on the sanctuary, gird his loins with fasting and almsgiving of the spirit. This will be the orthodoxy of his life.

The undoubted fact must be openly acknowledged that among all the confessions of faith in the true incarnation performed on earth in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Alpha and Omega of salvation – among all who call on His Holy Name, there are spiritually born people. Both among the Orthodox and among the Roman Catholics, as well as among the Protestants of different denominations and shades. As well as among the first, and among the second, and among the third, there are people who are not spiritually born in Christ, who have not hated evil, who have not loved God with all their heart and with all their thoughts.

All those whom the Orthodox Church accepts without Baptism are all Christians – Orthodox brothers in Christ, and the attitude towards them must be especially brotherly, loving. We say especially because one must have a fraternal attitude towards all people. How can an Orthodox convert anyone to the faith if there is no love for him? How will he know this faith of love if he does not see love in those who preach it?

Pride is abominable before God, and now we, the Orthodox, understand not only the sins of the flesh, but also of our spirit. “You say: I am rich (read:” Orthodox “- author’s note), I got rich and I don’t need anything, and you don’t know that you are miserable and poor, poor, blind and naked” – says God to the proud Orthodox a man who has no love (Rev. 3:17).

Will this blessed time come when authentic Orthodoxy will shine in those who bear its name ?! When will the meekness, mercy, purity, and unhypocritical love of Christ for every single person and for every creature shine? Today, the Orthodox faith shines in the martyrdom of the Russian people. However, true, unhypocritical Orthodoxy is also glorified in some sectarians – martyrs and confessors, as well as in Roman Catholics, persecuted and tortured for their faith in Christ. And it has become famous much more purely and holy than in the thousands of warm, cowardly ones who have only the name – as if they were alive (Rev. 3: 1), but in fact they are dead followers of our purely dogmatic teaching.

Here our Orthodoxy is only a reflection, only an echo of the heavenly Orthodoxy, of its eternal truth and eternal perfections. Dogmatically, it is reflected purely in the teachings of the Orthodox Church, but it is spirit and life, and has as its fruit only life. Orthodoxy is a good fruit, and a tree should be judged only by its fruits, by the results of its flowering. The flower may not be beautiful, the leaves may be prickly and dry, the tree may be low growing and unattractive, even if it is felled… However, if its fruit is sweet, pure and nutritious, then the tree is Orthodox in its fruitfulness. Conversely, even if the flowers and leaves are magnificent, even if it is a huge and wonderful tree, but if its fruit is inedibly bitter, poisonous or insignificant, this seemingly prominent tree will not reveal anything of the truth of Orthodoxy. And it will be a pity if he only begins to stand out and exalt himself above the other trees.

But what, in fact, is the spirit of sectarianism against which we must arm ourselves with prayer and sobriety? This spirit is a spirit of spiritual (not spiritual) jealousy. This is the rationalization of faith, the preservation of the purity of faith and the loss of its depth. This is the loss of love. Some Orthodox defend their Orthodoxy in a sectarian way, using texts from the Scriptures or canons as sticks, defending sectarians or their Orthodox (examples of this are the ancient and modern schisms), defending their faith without hope in God, without love for man. Conversely, in some sectarians the Orthodox spirit is manifested in one matter or another. For example, regarding the misunderstanding of communion with the heavenly Church (with the saints), all sectarians “will not recognize” this communion and will not wish to join its spiritual experience, proudly rejecting this communion, but one of them will rebuke the Orthodox for their “Idolatry”, and another will “surrender the judgment of God” and only meekly pray for the enlightenment of his Orthodox brethren from the light of truth. Both will be outside the experience of Orthodox communion with the heavenly Church, but one of the two (the first) will be non-Orthodox and the other Orthodox, and – regardless of their non-Orthodox faith – perhaps he turns out to be more Orthodox before God than an Orthodox who communicates with the saints purely externally – ritually, without, however, acting in his life according to the commandments of the Gospel and without striving with his heart for the spirit of the saints.

We are all guilty. “There is none righteous” (Rom. 3:10) – and this must be understood. And not to judge each other, but to help each other, to learn justice from each other. How many barriers will fall then!

If the Lord had limited Himself to those laws of salvation that are clear to our human minds, we would all perish. This is not the case with immeasurable human happiness. The laws of God’s salvation are broader than our understanding, or more precisely, deeper. For, the Savior is Lord, and we – the people – are a creature insignificant and miserable before God. And “all our righteousness is like a soiled garment” (Isa. 64: 6)… All our Orthodoxy is in fact “like a soiled garment” .

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