Celebrating Our Diversity Now Project Documentary

Readers of this blog will recall that back in February I was one of four representatives of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) at a multi-city Youth Interfaith Initiative hosted by the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church’s Canadian Diocese and funded by the Colonial Government of Canada. I just got back from camping and hiking in Grasslands, Waterton Lakes, Banff, and Jasper National Parks and am still catching up on my emails; I have been asked to share the documentary of the event on my website and social media. So here it is.

The documentary can be viewed here.

Thoughts?

Celebrating Our Diversity Now Project Documentary Trailer​

Readers of this blog will recall that back in February I was one of four representatives of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) at a multi-city Youth Interfaith Initiative hosted by the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church’s Canadian Diocese and funded by the Colonial Government of Canada. I just got back from camping and hiking in Grasslands, Waterton Lakes, Banff, and Jasper National Parks and am catching up on my emails, and so it turns out I have been asked to share the trailer on my website and social media of the documentary of the event. So here it is.

The trailer can be viewed here.

Thoughts?

Mormonism

Part I: Reading The Book of Mormon

I’ve been listening to this podcast habitually starting with Episode 1 since I discovered it. It is called Naked Mormonism, and if you ever wanted to know about what would appear to be the failure of religion, this is a great place to start.

As Orthodox Christians, we have two options. The first is that there is no salvation outside the Orthodox Church; this is the traditional view until the rise of the heresy of Ecumenism. The second option which has become en vogue today is that all people proclaiming to be Christians are in fact somehow Christians (how people who believe different things can have the same label is beyond me, but you make more money off conferences and academic articles if you play the Ecumenism game).

This leaves Orthodox Ecumenists (a real oxymoron) painted in a corner because the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Community of Christ are “Member Communions” of the National Council of Churches.

My point being that if Mormons and Orthodox Christians are both equally “Christian” then this podcast reveals the significant failure of Christianity. Littered throughout the episodes are the stories of the casualties of Ecumenical Christianity:  Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Non-Denominationalism, Full-Gospel Non-Denominationalism, World Assemblies of God Fellowship (Assemblies of God), Messianic Judaism (Judaism too), and American Protestant Revivalism, Protestant Restorationism, and Classical Protestantism. People who were never taught—or at best taught poorly—share their stories; as someone educated in these matters, the ignorance and fallacious thought-processes are striking, and their personal stories heartbreaking. But this is what religious leaders are dealing with, or worse yet, are complicit in compounding.

My own interest in Mormonism goes way back to when I was an adolescent occultist. On TV the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would air these commercials on Canadian TV for free Book of Mormons and Mormon KJV Bibles. So, of course, I and my friend Critter would order ridiculous amounts of them using various names, but always the same address. This must’ve been around Grade 7, Junior High, whatever age that makes me I’m not sure.

Around this time I also saw the movie The God Makers on VHS, and lucky for me I had a copy of The Satanic Bible, so when the film brings out The Satanic Bible I was able to check “The Book of Lucifer” just to make sure they were lying, which of course I already knew—as I basically knew that whole Bible by heart already at that age. Maybe that’s why Mormonism stuck with me so much, perhaps I wondered why so-called Protestant groups would lie about what The Satanic Bible said in order to show Mormonism was false?

I kept up my studies of Mormonism throughout the years, and it was the summer prior to my first year of seminary, August of 2015?, when I first learned that the LDS had released photos of Smith’s seer stone that got me researching more and I concluded that Mormonism is not a human fabrication, but one of the best cases of the demonic, that it is a literally Satanic religion. I came to this conclusion as a demonologist, and it is from this perspective that the LDS movement is of great interest to me.

So my summer reading, thanks to this podcast, is to read the Book of Mormon, as I have never read the entire thing. So I plan on reading it cover-to-cover. At first I was going to read the Penguin edition, which is “based on the last edition supervised by Joseph Smith before his violent and untimely death at the age of thirty-eight,” but have since decided upon reading the Yale Book of Mormon, edited by the Mormon at the head of the Critical Text Project, Royal Skousen. Feel free to join me, and we can bounce ideas around. The Book of Mormon alone should make this a rather interesting Summer. So buy some excellent craft beer, roll out a blanket or open up an umbrella over a deck, and cheers to an honest reading of a book held to be North-American-made-Scripture by very many people all over the planet.

Part II: Timeline

(Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy etc. here)

Part III: Resources

Naked Mormonism Podcast

National Council of Churches – Member Communions

Community of Christ

The God makers

The Satanic Bible

The Book of Mormon – Penguin

The Book of Mormon – Yale

Royal Skousen

The Book of Mormon Critical Text Project

6 August 2015 – Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript, Photos of Seer Stone Featured in New Book

8 September 2015 – How BYU Destroyed Ancient Book of Mormon Studies

20 April 2016 – Are Mormons Developing Toward Greater Orthodoxy? – Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

May 2016 – MORMONS APPROACHING ORTHODOXY – Richard J. Mouw

June 2016 – Mormons at the Forefront – Terryl Givens

13 May 2017 – Utah’s Largest Newspaper Interviews Mormon to Orthodox Christian Convert – Cameron Davis

13 May 2017 – Utah Mormons, Protestants finding new spiritual home in ancient Orthodox church: Utah Mormons and Protestants are rediscovering a reverence for God by converting to Orthodoxy. – Bob Mims

3 January 2018 – Faith and Doubt: Mormonism and Orthodox Christianity – Arthur Hatton

 

The Anathemas of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Lent 2018 Edition

Tonight, here in Toronto, we Chalcedonian Orthodox Christians celebrated the Annual Sunday of Orthodoxy Pan-Orthodox Vespers in the Anglican Chapel of Trinity College. Those familiar with the Orthodox program at Trinity College will understand the set-up, and those who don’t are encouraged to check out their website. For me, as I was there at the beautiful location, I found it a bit ironic to find ourselves there celebrating the Triumph of Orthodoxy over heresy and all… But it was a very nice service and a good time. If we look at the situation honestly, the fact that the Orthodox presence at a major North American University is growing is nothing but a good thing. What we are to do about the Monophysite slice of the Trinity College pie is a tale for another day, and has been touched upon elsewhere.

I. Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Ecumenical Patriarchate

1082?

Metaphysical and religious truths could validly originate only in the Christian revelation. This is the reason that Plato and the Neoplatonists were always looked at with suspicion in conservative–and particularly monastic–circles of the Byzantine Church: Indeed, in any form of Platonic thought, no understanding of reality was possible without metaphysical, that is, in fact, theological presuppositions foreign to Christianity.

     It is not astonishing, therefore, to find out that every year, on the first Sunday of Lent–also known as the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”–all Byzantine Orthodox churches resounded with formal and repeated anathemas against “those who follow the foolish opinions of the Hellenic disciplines” and particularly against those “who considered the ideas of Plato [the ‘Divine Ideas’ or ‘Forms’ -T.S.] as truly existing or believe (with Aristotle) in the eternity of matter.* These anathemas were first issued in the eleventh century on the occasion of the condemnation of the philosopher John Italos, but their inclusion in the liturgical Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy gave them permanent significance. -Fr. John Meyendorff, “Introduction,” Gregory Palamas: The Triads, The Classics of Western Spirituality, pp. 10-11, 115

*J. Gouillard, ” Le Synodikon de l’Orthodoxie. Edition et commentaire”, Centre de recherche d’histoire et de civilisation byzantines. Travaux et mémoires 2 (Paris, 1967), p. 59; also Triodion (Athens, ed. Phos, 1958), p. 160.

II. The Anathemas of the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Saint Petersburg

1902

(Jordanville Edition 1967)

III. Anathema Against Ecumenism

ROCOR

1983

IV. The Anathemas of the Sunday of Orthodoxy

ROCOR

2000

VI. Defending the Synodikon by Fr. Lawrence Farley

OCA

16 March 2016

Interfaith Diversity

“εἰ πορεύσονται δύο ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καθόλου ἐὰν μὴ γνωρίσωσιν ἑαυτούς;”
-Ἀμώς 3·3 Rahlfs-Hanhart LXX

The week of February 5-9th 2018 I was one of four representatives of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) at a multi-city Youth Interfaith Initiative hosted by the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church’s Canadian Diocese and funded by the Colonial Government of Canada.

On Tuesday, February 6th, I and the other Youth representatives from the Greek Orthodox got to speak a bit. When it came to my turn, I introduced myself: I’m a second-year seminarian, a convert, married etc. and I chose to say what I felt was ultimately lacking in representation at this interfaith dialogue: Christ. Below is basically what I said.

As an Indigenous person, a Métis (as is my wife), I hear a lot about social justice in the media and the academic side of Indigenous issues. But I don’t care about “social justice.” As a Métis raised by a single mother of four, I do not care about social justice. And what is the point of interfaith dialogue? If it is just to alleviate suffering, then this is where dogmatic differences come into play. I believe that water seeks its own level, that teaching a man to fish feeds him better than giving him fish for a day.

How does that connect to Christianity? Well, Orthodox Christianity doesn’t teach you to escape suffering like Buddhism does. It trains you to endure suffering, to endure the days you don’t catch any fish, or when someone steals your fish, or when you go hungry because you gave your fish to someone else. The problem with interfaith dialogue is that our end goal is ultimately not the same because our path and destinations are different. Orthodox Christianity teaches that the point of all of this is θέωσις, to become by grace what God is by nature. Not the eliminating of suffering, the metamorphosing of suffering and our union with Christ. To be with Christ, that is the direction.

* * * * * * *

 

“As it is impossible for two people to share a journey at the same time, he is saying, unless indicating to each other where and why they are traveling, or for a lion to roar if there is no prey, or for a bird to fall without a hunter, or for all the other things mentioned, so it is impossible for any punishment to be imposed without God willing it. He calls punishment “evil,” note, by use of a general custom: we are accustomed to use “troubles” of diseases, chastisements, untimely deaths, famines, wars, and the like, not because they are troublesome by nature but because they are troublesome to human beings and the source of distress and grief.”
-Blessed Theodoret of Cyr, Commentary of Amos 3.6–8*

* * * * * * *

Further Reading/Watching:
Celebrating Our Diversity Now
“Celebrating Our Diversity Now” Youth Interfaith Project
“Celebrating Our Diversity Now” Interfaith Event in Toronto, 5-9 February, 2018, (Shoghakat TV)
“Celebrating Our Diversity Now” Interfaith Event in Toronto, 5-9 February, 2018, (New Horizon TV)
Celebrating Our Diversity Now – TorontoAlbumsCelebrating Our Diversity Now – Toronto 78 Photos
Youth Interfaith Gathering organized by the Armenian Diocese in Toronto

 

 

*Ferreiro, Alberto and Thomas C. Oden, eds. The Twelve Prophets. Vol. 14 of Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. ICCS/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Toll Houses

I had an old post about this topic, where I began to compile all references to this subject. I’ll post the whole thing here:

Aerial Toll Houses (3rd Version, as of Friday 11 March AD 2016)

Here is a list of people that I have found through my own studies–and not from reading what someone else read–who believe the toll houses to be either literal and/or figurative/metaphorical:

circa 580-662 – St. Maximus the Confessor – L

“The Logos . . . reduce[d] to impotence the hostile powers that fill the intermediary region between heaven and earth . . . ” –On the Lord’s Prayer (circa 628-630

circa 7th century – St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic  – L & F

b1815-d1894 – St. Theophan the Recluse – L

b1896-d1966 – St. John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker – L

b1897/1898-d1959 – Elder Joseph the Hesychast – L

b1934-d1982 – Fr. Seraphim Rose – L & F

The Soul After Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose

b1934-d2015 – Fr. Thomas Hopko –  Allegory of a reality?

“Toll Houses: After Death Reality of Heresy?” (audio & transcript)

present day – Metropolitan Kallistos Ware – L & F

present day – Rdr. Thomas Sandberg – L & F

Upon release of The Departure of the Soul According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church I thought for sure the topic was closed, and all the Ecumenists, converts, and academic theologians would surely take a pause and reevaluate their error, especially in light of the endorsements of many Bishops.

I, of course, was wrong. Instead, those above have enough pride to say it is those exact same Bishops who endorse the book who are wrong. Such is the case with Paul Ladouceur’s book review posted on the Ancient Faith blog “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy,” entitled Orthodox Theologies of the Afterlife: Review of “The Departure of the Soul.” An interesting quirk here is that Ancient Faith, under whose umbrella the review is posted, also sells the book in question, which should give one pause.

I’m not going to go through his review and dissect his errors, of which there are many, as I’m sure the more astute readers will be commenting in the comment section, giving Fr. Damick much to defend Ladouceur over. Instead, I will point my readers to a much better and honest review of the book written by Fr. Lawrence Farley on his Ancient Faith blog “No Other Foundation” and published on June 11th, 2017, entitled Book Review: The Departure of the Soul; also, read the comments therein.

In closing, I would like to point out to my readers that Paul Ladouceur is employed by the Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College, which “was established with the blessing of His Grace Irénée, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada, Orthodox Church in America.” This is important because as far as I know Ladouceur is a member of the OCA, and His Grace Irénée’s endorsement of the book Ladouceur essentially calls heretical for it’s “ecclesiology” can be found on page 19 of the book in question.

Update: I have since had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ladouceur many times now, and we have discussed many interesting topics. Some of those topics we are in agreement, others not so much; however, toll houses has yet to become a topic of conversation between us yet.

“Oriental Orthodoxy,” Part I: Chalcedonian Orthodoxy and Non-Chalcedonian Heterodoxy

In The Triads St. Gregory Palamas made a reference to the Christological decree of the Council of Chalcedon (451),

If then this light, which shone from the Saviour on the Mountain, is a natural symbol, it is not so in respect of both the natures in Him, for the natural characteristics of each nature are different.

This is very telling, as 1.) it affirms Chalcedon, and 2.) shows the historicity of the Orthodox Church’s orthodox Christology as defined at the Fourth Ecumenical Council–very telling indeed, especially in our present-day when both of the preceding points are under attack, and not just by heretics, but by many Orthodox as well.


The Spread of Heresy


This could be seen last year when the blog Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy published a brilliant, insightful and historically accurate post by guest author Nicholas Marinides, Ph.D., entitled Chalcedonian Orthodoxy and Non-Chalcedonian Heterodoxy. Not only did Fr. Andrew Damick opt to add an ‘Editorial Note’ preceding the ‘Comments’ section, but the post has since been updated with links to two follow-up posts which I have not yet had the time to read, due to training jiu-jitsu and being a full-time seminarian in a different province than my long-suffering wife.


The post itself obviously is not what I’m referring to when I wrote above ‘this could be seen last year,’ but the comments section, as those who are not embracing the Monophysite/Miaphysite heresies with open arms could easily guess. Indicative of the mindset of those posting in the comments against Dr. Marinides is the fact that a couple Orthodox Theological Academies embrace the same mindset, as I will show in a “Prequel” in this series.


Ephesians 4:15


I sent a link to the blog post to my Spiritual Father, as he (in addition to being a Professor of Pastoral Theology in a seminary) is in an unusual position as he not only has his M.A.Th. from one of the pro-Miaphysite Orthodox Theological Academies but is also a Lecturer at the other. His response?

 This is good

Speaking the truth in love

And he is exactly right. The comments posted in response to Dr. Marinides’ post are crazy, and quite telling actually about what shapes people’s minds; they also reveal a historical anachronism in that Monophysitism ‘became’ Miaphysitism which ‘became’ Oriental Orthodoxy, Dr. Marinides even touched on that slightly. That’s one of the worst arguments really, that what the Miaphysites believe now is not what they believed then… OK, then either they have invented a new heresy from the old heresy, or they are in fact Orthodox. When I read stuff such as The Nature of Christ by Shenouda III, to me, it’s pretty clear they are Monophysites renaming themselves Miaphysites (ironically both terms meaning ‘one nature’), and so Monophysitism was condemned at Chalcedon and Miaphysitism was condemned in the 8th anathema in the 8th session of the 5th Ecumenical Council: 

“VIII. IF anyone uses the expression “of two natures,” confessing that a union was made of the Godhead and of the humanity, or the expression “the one nature made flesh of God the Word,” and shall not so understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught, to wit: that of the divine and human nature there was made an hypostatic union, whereof is one Christ; but from these expressions shall try to introduce one nature or substance [made by a mixture] of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in teaching that the only-begotten Word was united hypostatically [to humanity] we do not mean to say that there was made a mutual confusion of natures, but rather each [nature] remaining what it was, we understand that the Word was united to the flesh. Wherefore there is one Christ, both God and man, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood. Therefore they are equally condemned and anathematized by the Church of God, who divide or part the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ, or who introduce confusion into that mystery.”

Case closed, right? This is where I’m not so sure, as Ecumenists and academic theologians push this issue one is forced to admit the Monophysites and Miaphysites are in error, or that the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils are in error, as after Chalcedon they each sequentially confirm the previous Council. This relates to whether or not the case is closed by an appeal to history: up until the 11th century all of Christendom (excluding heretical groups) accepted the 8th Ecumenical Council, with the Patriarchate of Rome after falling into schism rejecting it and so they had their own #8 later, but all of Orthodoxy continued to count 8 Ecumenical Councils all the way up until the 19th century, —thereafterfor reasons best explained by the late Fr. Romanides—it was incorrectly removed from our Ecclesiastical history, which is precisely what will happen to the 7th, 6th, 5th, and 4th: we will become Miaphysites. Little by little, step by step, the road to Tartarus is paved with good intentions…

Holy Saturday 1579: The Miracle of the Holy Fire

The above is really unsettling, and the whole situation confusing, to those who attempt to fight the good fight, to keep the faith—but don’t lose heart, we have a miracle showing us the way in which we should proceed: the miracle of the Holy Fire, which as of this writing has already been granted to the Chalcedonian Orthodox faithful who gathered at the Holy Sepulchre today.

Every time heretics have tried to obtain the Holy Fire they have failed. Three such attempts are known, and it is the one in 1579 that concerns us in this post:

Once the Armenians (monophysites – ed.) paid the Turks, who then occupied the Holy Land, in order to obtain permission for their Patriarch to enter the Holy Sepulchre, the Orthodox Patriarch was standing sorrowfully with his flock at the exit of the church, near the left column, when the Holy Light split this column vertically and flashed near the Orthodox Patriarch.

A Muslim Muezzin, called Tounom, who saw the miraculous event from an adjacent mosque, immediately abandoned the Muslim religion and became an Orthodox Christian. This event took place in 1579 under Sultan Mourad IV, when the Patriarch of Jerusalem was Sophrony IV.

Keep this in mind when in a few hours we ourselves receive the light from the flame of the sleepless lamp on the Holy Altar in our parishes, lighting our Paschal candles from it as we receive the light from the unwaning light, and glorify Christ Who is risen from the dead. Recall at that moment when the Holy Light split the column, lighting the candle of the Chalcedonian Orthodox Patriarch Sophrony IV, and not the candle of the Miaphysite Patriarch.

Further Reading

The Messianic Theology of Bob Marley and His Conversion to Ethiopian Orthodoxy – Dr. Taylor Marshall

Meet the Oriental Orthodox Christians and Their Controversial Christology – Dr. Taylor Marshall