Clergy-Laity: Pave New Path for Family

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The theme of the 42nd Clergy Laity Congress The Orthodox Christian Family: A Dwelling of Christ and A Witness of His Gospel, is appropriate.

The theme of the 42nd Clergy Laity Congress The Orthodox Christian Family: A Dwelling of Christ and A Witness of His Gospel, is appropriate.

Source: The National Herald

BY GEORGE E. MATSOUKAS

The theme of the 42nd Clergy Laity Congress “The Orthodox Christian Family: A Dwelling of Christ and A Witness of His Gospel,” is very appropriate for us in this time of transition. For it is truly within the home that the Orthodox faith will be learned, and will survive and grow by the example and actions of each of us. However, for many, parish life and archdiocesan settings are an antithesis to the theme of the 42ndCongress.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

On September 18, 1999 His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios was enthroned as the sixth Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the United States. In July 1-7 2000 he presided over the 35th Clergy Laity Congress “Ageless Traditions in a New Millennium.” That was his first Congress as Archbishop. The Archdiocese had experienced many changes since the resignations of Archbishop Iakovos and Archbishop Spyridon. The main concern of the delegates was the development of a new Charter, the fifth for the Archdiocese since 1922. It should be noted that the first charter established the Archdiocese as an autonomous Church. Each subsequent Charter eroded that autonomy. The delegates of the 2000 Congress were concerned that the new charter not take away the last remnant of autonomy of the Archdiocese.

The delegates to the 2002 Los Angeles Clergy Laity Congress, the last Congress with meaningful input from the participants, made it clear that they wanted an autonomous Archdiocese in the USA. The eventual 2003 gift charter imposed by the Patriarchate did not come forth for consideration before a Clergy Laity Congress. It was eventually presented in New York as a fait accompli. This modus operandi reflected the poor status of the trust relationship between the hierarchy and the laity and foreshowed what their relationship would become.

ARCHDIOCESAN LIFE

The Charter weakened the role of the Archbishop and created an even more fragmented process of governance within the Archdioceses.

The Patriarchate is determined to control the Church in America and elevated the former titular Metropolitans of dioceses under the 1970 Charter into Metropolitans of United States cities, under the 2003 charter. In reality, it established autonomous Metropolises.

The traditions that have emerged for the new millennium since Philadelphia 2000 in this restrictive Archdiocesan environment are many. The most profound is the Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in general in the United States has succumbed to the tragedy of clericalism. The synergy of clergy and laity working together in a respectful manner within the ethos of the accountability and transparency, which is the Orthodox Way and the American Way, has been lost. All committees are appointed. There is little turnover in the committees related to the administration, finance, external affairs and the seminary.

In this environment of clericalism, Orthodox Christian Fundamentalism pervades as the new ethos of the Church. The seminary is producing priests who believe they are fully in charge of parish administration. Even our best and more mature priests look to leave the Archdiocese and work as fill in priests with lay professions. There seems to be no way to get control of the franchised monasteries that have developed all over the country where Greek is the required language. They have become a drag on the Church in general. Some married priests who are parish priests look to these monastic norms and emulate these monastic norms. It is interesting to note that some of the books stores of these monasteries are full of books about the lives of different Elders and do not have an Orthodox Study Bible in stock.

Students attend the seminary and then are not ordained. Mediocrity is becoming the norm within the Church. Orthodox Fundamentalism needs to be addressed. It is a factor attracting a type of seminarian who is not appropriate for the future well-being of the Orthodox Church in America.

The Archdiocese has also undertaken a policy of “Hellenizing” the Church. There is no definition of this concept. One characteristic is to institutionalize the Greek festival as a fundraiser for parish operating costs because the concept of tithing is not taught and encouraged. Ethnic youth dancing is now a ministry. Indigenous Americans of Greek descent, fourth and fifth generation, have been marginalized. It is interesting to note that the development of the St, Nicholas Shrine within the 9/11 lower Manhattan site of the American Memorial is being morphed into creating an Acropolis in New York City and… “a perpetual sacred shrine to Orthodoxy and Hellenism…”

PARISH LIFE – CLERGY & LAITY

The fragmentation of the Archdiocese into autonomous Metropolises has created problems for the clergy. New patterns of relating to their superiors have emerged. Priests can be assigned as a result of their relations with the Metropolitan. In some cases, cronyism has been a factor in assignments. Ethnicity has been a factor in assignments. There are cases where good priests were removed from parishes because they are not Greek enough. Cash payments either by clergy themselves or influential laypersons have determined assignments. In general, our priests are troubled. They are afraid to speak their minds. Divorce rates are high among our Clergy.

Clericalism has also created problems for parish administration. Priests are assigned to parishes without interviews by the parish council. When there is not a good match, problems emerge within the parish and divisions become counterproductive. If parish councils persist with their legitimate input, they are threatened with being dismissed. The attitude is that the laity will continue to pay and obey. But times are changing. Before the imposed 2003 Charter, we heard criticism from clergy and hierarchy about the Church being oriented in congregational ways. It should be noted it was in this pre-2003 environment that most of the infrastructure of our church in America was built and developed. Our grandfathers used the ethos of this country which was working in local committees with transparency and accountability to build our parishes. The good order of our Church at all levels depends on restoring the balance and synergy of clergy and laity working together. Restoring this balance must be addressed.

Financial administrative costs to govern a relatively small church of an estimated 440,000 adherents have grown enormously. The budget for 2014 is 27.3 million dollar to support a growing bureaucracy within the Archdiocese and each Metropolis. What do we get with that budget? Every parish in the GOA is under pressure to raise funds for parish, Metropolis and Archdiocese administrative costs.

NEW WAY NEEDED

First-time observers to the 2014 Clergy Laity Congress have expressed that in administrative informational sessions the Archdiocese seems to be playing a catch-up game. Like parish meetings, the main concern is just maintenance. There seems to be a lack of vision for the future. Very little input from the laity is sought; there is no give- and-take. The event has become a social reunion at great costs to the participants and parishes. Could this money be better used to benefit the ministries of the Church? It seems that the Church faithful are resigned and apathetic while also concerned about the direction of a Church that feels stale. Discussions about how to revive many of our Churches that have become empty shells because of changing demographics are not a concern. A highlight of Philadelphia 2014 from the perspective of the Metropolitans is that they can close parishes and acquire their assets without the involvement of the laity.

The Church needs leaders who will energize the faithful with a discussion of their faith and its application to their life. A more appropriate and uplifting highlight would have been a meaningful overview of the work of the Assembly of Bishops as they go about the development of a blueprint for a unified and self-governing Orthodox Church in the United States. Everyone knows and feels that the present uncanonical state of Orthodoxy in the United States with its separate jurisdictions based on ethnicity diminishes its mission to all of us.

The early Church, laity although living in the uncertain world about them, were yet strong of faith, following the Biblical tradition Jesus set at the Last Supper, gathered together in upper rooms. The original Disciples and later the Apostles soon joined them. Laity discovered the empty tomb, then ran proclaiming the “Good News.” Today’s Orthodox families can do the same in their parishes. Surely the Good News must be heard loudly again resulting in parish strength and a deeper Faith in Orthodoxy.

George E. Matsoukas is Executive Director of the Orthodox Christian Laity, and the author of A Church in Captivity: The Greek Orthodox Church of America.

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8 Comments

  1. Not to worry. The 2014 Congress was all about a save the GOA strategy. If you want see the strategy on a diocese level see the Gerasimos diocese website front page where it is posted there. The strategy outlines what it believes are the threat to it. However it leaves out the three practical real world threats of systemic hierarchy corruption, cult monasticism and foreign rule. I noticed that the co-chairman of the council, Michael Jaharis, in his after the congress state of the church speech he did not address the issue of the Patriarch and Astoria NY like he did in his 2012 speech. He also spoke to the monastic issue and the death of a monk but would not say that persons name in either the 2012 and 2014 state of the church speeches and where he in both cases he directly references this persons death. There was also a Archdiocene council committee that developed a report on the monasteries of elder ephraim that was never made transparently public to the church.

    Did the co-chairman not address Astoria NY because the EP talked to the congress by Skype? Did he not mentioned the dead mans name because of authoritarian coercion, threat and intimidation? Is the co-chairman playing along with a corrupt religious political game that renders him powerless and an enabler of the corruption he says he is opposed too?

    A top down authoritarian structure and system of rule power and control that is closed, isolated, segregated and subjective and that has an exclusive ‘we are Gods only true church’ viewpoint of itself is not transparent or accountable. There is a very thin line between an exclusive claim of being Gods only true church and crossing that line and turning the church into God, into idolatry. We alone are right is easy to turned into self idolatry that leads to systemic church corruption and whose self righteous viewpoint of itself will not repent. Corporate corruption in sin bondage becomes the culture of such a church and it also becomes the indoctrination of such a church when it is the culture of the church.

    A church structure of authoritarian power and control and that is a closed system with an exclusive claim is the set up for turning the church into self idolatry, into God. It is easy to turn a church with this viewpoint of itself and its authoritarian structure and system of rule into a Christian cult.

    The GOA save the GOA strategy will fail within 5 years of the 2014 congress. All of my predictions of the GOA come true. All of them.

  2. On the Monomakhos website George defends the monasticism of elder ephraim. I am glad he is asking his blog followers to read this article at this OCL website. He disagrees with the OCL position on monasticism and elder ephraim in America. He is an ephraimite and a member of the OCL. I personally find that to be a contradiction considering the OCA position on the elder. The real world corrupt, failed, irrelevant, cultic, abusive and dying state of Orthodoxy in America is a contradiction to Jesus in the Gospels and so George being a contradiction does not surprise me in the least.

    Did George disagree with the GOA and then left it for the OCA? Does he now agree with the OCA hierarchy? Would it be better for him if he went to yet another jurisdiction or is all of Orthodoxy systemically corrupt no matter where he or anyone else would go inside of it in America? Is there no way of escaping the systemic corruption of Orthodoxy in America?

    The week Jonah was enthroned I went public on the Orthodox blogs and predicted he would not last more than two years. How long did he last, Orthodox? I knew he would fail when he said at his enthronement that he had the most PROFOUND for the bishops on stage with him. Respect for the corrupt is the setup for your failure by yourself being corrupt in the saying of that. George, like thousands of other OCA, completely missed what the true character of Jonah was really saying when he said that intentionally. How a church thinks determines its real world outcome. How it thinks reflects the character of a church and its rulers. Jonah was thinking corruption when he said that.

    I don’t believe I heard anyone defend Jonah like George on Monomakhos did. He was defending corruption and didn’t see how and why he was. Misplaced loyalty, honor, respect and submission can cause you to get it wrong. Not only did he get it wrong about Jonah he is getting it wrong about elder ephraim. It is dangerous to people when you get it wrong about corrupt people. You yourself can become unknowingly to yourself dangerous to people when you advocate for and defend corrupt people. It is called religious codependency and codependency always ends up protecting, supporting and enabling what is wrong.

    Idolatry of a church and/or its rulers is dangerous to a church, you think? Corruption cannot see other corruption as being wrong? Is corruption blinding? Can church systemic corruption blind a church to its corruption? Can it cause a church member to get it wrong about a church hierarchical ruler or rulers? Can such a person get it wrong about their church structure and system of rule that the person believes is Gods only true structure and system of rule?

    This what I know for a fact. Jesus is the way of escape and if He is not used as the way of escape you don’t escape a systemically corrupt, failed, abusive, cultic and dying church. You instead go in circles. Like Proverbs says, you return to vomit. You go circular without Christ solution and nothing changes, things only become worse and worse. Have things gotten worse and worse in America’s two largest Orthodox jurisdictions? Are the solutions to their dying and corrupt state of church correcting the church or is all just circular without solution by the wrong solutions applied?

    I like to ask the Orthodox questions they never seem to thinks for themselves to ask themselves. I believe that is because they are allowing something else to think for them. What could that something else thinking for them be? It couldn’t be their top down authoritarian structure of rule and a closed system of rule thinking for them, could it? There a I go again asking thinking for yourself questions.

    I ask thinking for yourself outside of something else thinking for you questions and many Orthodox believe that is wrong and because of the wrong the answers to the questions point too. No question about it. There is something wrong with a corrupt and failed church that exclusively claims to be Gods only true church. It is hypocritical contradiction.

    The EO talk symptoms of problem and not cause of problem. If you don’t go to cause you will never find solution. If the EO were to go to cause they would have to change their structure and system of rule to find solution. Since the structure and system of rule is a sacred cow of tradition that means nothing is going to change about their current state of church or in what its future can only end up being. Gods only true Christians in Gods only true church cannot get it wrong but their church outcome is wrong. There is only one Gods only right and true structure of rule that is the Orthodox structure and system of rule and its corrupt and failed outcome prove that in the Orthodox Mind.

    I wonder if George would agree with me when I say cult produced PTSD can lead a person to commit suicide. That shaming spiritual abuse of power can cause PTSD that leads a person to commit suicide. His name was Scott Nevins. I am his father.

  3. I see there are two Georges and that could cause confusion for anyone reading the second post. The author of this article is not the George I am talking about. The author of the Monomakhos website is the George I am referencing.

    I believe the name of Matsoukas book could easily have been A Church in Bondage: The Greek Orthodox Church. The word captivity is close but it not the spiritual issue. The spiritual issue is bondage.

    He like every other Orthodox he does not go to cause. He talks symptoms that point to the cause denied. The cause denied is the top down hierarchical structure of totalitarian authoritarian rule power and control and a closed, isolated, segregated and subjective system. There is not a priesthood of the believer authority in such a church structure and system. In this structure and system you serve the rulers and their structure and system of rule that keeps them in religious dictatorship power and control. The focus in on the rulers and their structure and system of rule and not on the church itself they are to serve. Yet, many Orthodox believe that more centralized authoritarian power and control hierarchical rule is the solution to their imploding dying state in America.

    There are not spiritual Einsteins leading the jurisdictions and the laity is not that wise either, the definition of insanity is using the same failed solution over and over again believing that time it will provide the solution. More centralized hierarchy rule power and control is a failed solution that will only make matters worse. It is the wrong form of unity.

    Objectively, I find it interesting that the Baptist’s have the same basic theology but there are many different Baptist denominations and they manage not to be found in a dead end dying state in America. In fact, Saddleback Church that is Southern Baptist is probably the most influential church in America. Compare the multiplicity of church ministries that church has on the local level to any Orthodox parish or Cathedral on the local level.

    POU is going to translate into an effective and relevant Orthodox church in America by more centralization of hierarchy power and control? It is going to create a Saddleback church like relevancy in America in the jurisdictions?

    I find it interesting how the Orthodox criticize evangelical mega church when their jurisdictions are a mega church of immigration, marriage and birth. One church is built on the Great Commission in relevancy paradigm shifts and the other one is built on dead religion in tradition that cannot paradigm shift. Jesus came to us a paradigm shift and the Orthodox come to us unable to paradigm shift. One church exclusively claims to be Gods only true church and the other one just claims to be Gods true church. One church can reform and the other one can only be deformed due to an inability to reform. One church is transform and the one is deform. One church is alive and other one is dead.

    The irrelevant Orthodox in America can disagree with me and it will not make any difference in their real world outcome that I speak the truth too. It has already unfolded right before their denying eyes. Its all too little far too late now. Relevancy in America will never be found.

    I have a particular way of putting things, don’t I? Like the Orthodox have never been told before is this.

  4. The comments on Monomakhos seem to be focused on the ephraim monks in regards to confession to them and counsel by them on sex in marriage. After years of personal experiences and eye witness reports there is still controversy around these monasteries over issues of cultic practices, religious legalisms and strict rules. No amount of evidence is enough for some to believe the practices and teachings of these monasteries are what people say they are.

    There is both a micro and macro viewpoint on the issues surround the ephraim monasteries. The micro is the reports on specific experiences people have had. The macro is the larger systemic corruption problem of the GOA. The micro problems are the symptoms pointing to the macro problem. Not one person commenting connected those dots to each other. The rabbit trails off the subject go in circles. They are all about religion and tradition when Christianity is about relationship with Jesus Christ.

    The typical ephraimite response is found in the comments where the ephraim follower wants the blog to take down any critical thinking comments or personal experiences people have had. The elder is to control all comments about him and anyone who does not follow along is sinning against the elder. Don’t think for yourself. Think like you are told to think about the monasteries no matter what people report, what has been exposed and what is still being hidden. This is all just Satan attacking the elder and monasticism.

    The cult follower sees his idol as above question and if you question you are the problem for asking questions about what you see as a problem. To even elude to a possible problem is seen as defaming disrespect and a Satanic attack on the elder. You are breaking the unwritten rules of don’t think, don’t talk, don’t look, don’t feel, don’t ask questions and don’t expose. You must see the elder like the ephraim follower does or you are seeing him wrongly and are sinning against him.

    Often when you see a Christian religious leader in trouble the trouble is not with the leader it is with those who notice the problems with the leader. The exposed leader often says in a last defense to the facts that it is all just a Satanic attack. You hear things like the anti Christ secular humanist media is attacking the leader. In other words, the holy set apart and spiritually superior than the rest of us elder is above transparency and accountability because of how his followers see him.

    A systemically corrupt church attracts corrupt leaders. The entire hierarchical leadership structure and system of the GOA is systemically corrupt and the elder is not immune. The elder is just a symptom pointing to the systemic hierarchy corruption. The Orthodox really do not understand systemic corruption and how it corrupts all systems in the church and that includes monasticism. It is like they see the church as compartmentalized and not as a interconnected system.

    I find it interesting how the Orthodox believe that without the tradition of monasticism in the church the church is just not the church. There is no Biblical basis for it in the NT. Christ was not the first elder and the Apostles were not the first novice monks. Yet, monasticism is held up as the role model of the life of Christ walking among us. The Orthodox are really saying that the tradition of monasticism is the foundation of the church. They are equating it to Jesus Christ and that is idolatry.

    Orthodox it only makes rational logical sense that if you see your church as Gods only true church you see its rulers as Gods only true rulers. If you cannot see the setup for idolatry of church leaders in that it is because you are involved in the blinding idolatry corruption. The line of believing that your church is Gods only true church and turning that belief into God is our church is a fine line easily crossed. It is crossed subtly over time and by the time it is fully formed it is too late. The church will turn itself into a cult.

    What is seen today is the GOA turned into a Christian cult. The elder is just a cult symptom pointing the larger GOA as a cult. One of the hallmark indicators of a cult is systemic leadership corruption. To deny the systemic corruption the GOA hierarchy is simply cult denial. Monasticism is not set apart from systemic corruption when it is a central part of the systemically corrupt GOA. It is found in the center of it when it defines the church and when it is believed that the church would not be the church without it.

    Many are saying that the GOA is worldly. The response to license is not legalism. The response is not to be closed isolation that is segregated from the reality of the real world where Christ really lived and walked among us as a bottom up and pluralistic inclusive open system of freedom in Christ over license and legalism.

    The Orthodox have the freedom of religion to believe that monasticism is Jesus in the Gospels who lived in a tree, on a rock, in the desert and in an isolated compound. Just saying the truth of it like it is tells the truth of what monasticism really is and it is not the role model of Christ in the Gospels. Christ was not a closed, isolated and segregated God in the Gospels. He did not come to us as a top down authoritarian closed system. If you translate that false belief into a church structure and system I wish you the best of luck. It will only turn the church into self idolatry of itself over time and that self idolatry will not be able to be wrong about itself for how superior exclusive it sees itself. Serious consequences will come to such a church and then what the consequences are pointing too will denied by a self righteous we alone are God right thinking and attitude that only creates more serious problems. The church will go circular without solution and die.

    The GOA is circular without solution and it is dying. The GOA can build more monasteries and it will only create a more exclusive, closed, isolated and segregated church system that is focused inward upon its superior self righteous self. If the solution to a systemically corrupt closed system is another systemically corrupt closed system the solution is corrupt and will go in circles with itself. Yes, I know, the Orthodox disagree with practical real world reality in the delusion they are found in about themselves that cannot be wrong about themselves.

    If church is not living in the rational reality of the real world it will be ruled by an irrational unreality of a world of its own making and that is delusional. Closed and segregated isolation that believes it is Gods only true truth about reality is the set up for delusion and the corruption the delusion brings. Jesus was not delusional, self righteous, exclusive closed or dead tradition based. Those He confronted were and they too believe they were Gods only right and true. They were a closed and not transparent system that the open system Christ exposed for what it really was and no matter what exclusive viewpoint they had of themselves that disagreed with what His expose’ exposed.

    I find it interesting that the irrationality of the delusional Orthodox sees the rational Christian as heresy practicing apostasy. They believe that rational Christianity is delusional. Rationality exposes irrationality and it does not work the other way around. Rational west freedom of religion competition is the expose’ of the failure of the irrational EOC in America. The comparison could not be more glaring and exposing of the reasons why it is in a state of failure.

    In the larger picture with all of its failures, faults and problems the western rational church exposes itself to itself like no Orthodox jurisdiction does. Jesus in the Gospels was not a closed not transparent system. The Orthodox have a serious problem, do you think for yourself think so too? The problem is unsolvable because the problem is the foundation of the church that is a exclusive, closed, isolated, segregated and subjective system that is not transparent and when Christ came to us as the opposite of that. That is the practical reality of the Orthodox failure in America and no matter how the Orthodox define it otherwise.

    The EO represent about 1% of Christianity in America and so they have the most to lose. They have lost in America. They believe the problem is other than what I state it here to be. Gods only true Christians cannot admit they are wrong by the foundation that they are built upon and that is their failure in freedom of religion. The interesting thing about freedom of religion competition is how it exposes what cannot compete. Where the Orthodox came from there was no such competition. When they came to America they did not establish themselves on the Great Commission. When you are Gods only true church you see yourself as the only competition by your exclusiveness. You believe there is no comparison to your church yet the rational comparison exposes that lie by the failure of the exclusive church. Rationality exposes what is irrational and therefore it exposes what cannot rationally compete in the rational real world. Delusion cannot compete against rationality in a western rational society and a rational Christian church.

    The Orthodox deny their irrational delusional perspective of themselves and die in rational America. Freedom of religion is also the freedom of a religion to die if it cannot compete with relevancy in our society. Face it, Orthodox, your church is irrelevancy in rational America. Rational is not attracted to what is irrational. It is attracted to what is rational and just like what is irrational is attracted to the irrational. It only makes rational sense that Orthodoxy would be in a reject state in western rational freedom of religion America. The exclusive, closed, isolated and segregated Orthodox have rejected ejected themselves from Christianity in America by their claim of being Gods only true church and Christians. Exclusivity excludes itself from rational real world reality, but rational reality still crashes in and exposes the irrationality. In rational America that lives in the reality of the real rational world that exclusivity is seen as cultic.

    The EO authoritarian structure and system combined with the exclusive claim is the set up to turn itself into a cult. An irrational cult closed system cannot compete effectively against rational evangelizing and Great Commission centered Christianity that is an open system.

    In the exclusive thinking EO Mind Gods only true church cannot be a cult and it cannot turn itself into a cult. It is just too exclusively God right and true about itself to turn itself into a cult. If you cannot see the cult thinking in that thinking that is because you have been indoctrinated by that exclusive cult thinking that cannot be wrong about itself and no matter how corrupt, failed, irrelevant, incompetent, abusive and dying it all becomes.

    As long as that exclusive belief stays in place there will always be a self righteousness that can be held onto and the church will not hit bottom and change its ways. It will not come to an end of its exclusive self and find and return to God. Yes, I know, the exclusive Orthodox disagree by their exclusive viewpoint of themselves. That is circular without solution in the rational real world and their failure in the real world of American rational freedom of religion is the proof. Deny the truth of why you are failed here by your exclusivity based in your exclusive claim and die in America.

    Live by inclusive Jesus or die by cult exclusiveness. If your church would rather die than live then it will die. That is the practical reality of the rational real world that is not delusional by an exclusive viewpoint of itself that is a lie believed. The lie believed is the self destruction of the EO in America. The truth is life and the lie is death. I read that in my Bible. It does not lie but the lie leads to church death. A lie believed is the cause of the death of Orthodoxy in America. In the end, the lie cannot compete against the truth and that is why the Orthodox cannot compete effectively in America and it is why they are dying here in the face of the competition they are forced to face by rational freedom of religion competition.

    The exclusive are really only relevant to themselves and that is church death.

    Exclusivity is not the solution to exclusivity. That is circular. The solution cancels itself out by being the same problem it is trying to address. The Orthodox will never escape exclusivity and the dying state of church it creates in America. The exclusive claim is their foundation. What they are built upon is self destructing in America. It is built upon what is destroying it in America. So, it really does not have a viable foundation to stand on and the proof is how it has fallen down in America by its exclusive perspective of itself in exclusive claim believed and made.

    Exclusive we alone are Gods only true Christians in Gods only true church is a Christian cult church.

    • ted perantinides on

      ashley,you are a bit harsh but you are right on the money.GOA has many problems ,however they can be rectified only if the laity has imput along with the higher ups.and yes we are GODS true church as long as laity and clergy work together.
      the mind-set of the GOA seems to be “control as many of your own as possible”because” xenie”would too hard to control and the clergy would lose their power. there are some GOA priests that are very CHRIST like i personally know a few.

      • Ashley Nevins on

        The reality of the GOA situation is harsh and it is harsh on Christians. It is not easy pointing out harsh realities that are harsh on Christians. However, I will confront it and call it what it is without compromise. I am will not be winning any Archon of the EP awards.

        ‘There are some GOA priests that are very Christ like I know a few personally”

        Are these Christ like priests paying the Christ price, making the Christ sacrifice and taking the Christ risk to remove the hierarchy corruption and elder cultism from the GOA? Are these Christ like priests putting their jobs and paychecks on the line for Christ trusting Him in their Christ courageous selfless stand against corruption and cultism?

        Please name a few of these suffering self less sacrifices for Christ like priests that you know. I am sure they would not mind being pointed out first and last name since they are not afraid of the corrupt hierarchy and what they might do to them. They are already known by name for their uncompromising of Christ stand among the GO anyway, right? So if you name them it will not put them at any more risk than they already are, right?

        What percentage of GOA priests would you say are Christ like as you would define that? Is it an overwhelming majority? What about the metropolitan’s? Is there an overwhelming majority of Christ like men among them?

        You say that the clergy would lose power. Who gives them the power to lose or have? Is it the overwhelming majority of Christ like laity that gives them their power? Who gives the corrupt hierarchy the power to crush the Christ life out of the church? Would it be those who have been crushed?

        Ted, you are probably a good Christian man. I assume that you are. You know I am speaking difficult but true truths about the state of the church and why it is in that state. It is difficult to read how I explain it, that I am sure about. I find it difficult to even look down into that spiritual sewer of corruption to explain it for the sewer that it is.

        Please understand something. I am a rational Christian that can see right through irrational Christianity and I expose it for what it is and I do not care who or what it is if it corrupt and/or cultic Christianity. I know every possible defense, argument, rationalization, excuse and justification that can be made by the Orthodox and I know how to answer everyone of them with insight that is straight up no compromising honest in explanation and that is as difficult to hear as it is as difficult to see and admit by the Orthodox. I often tell the Orthodox things they have never heard before and I explain it in a context they have never read before.

        Was Jesus a bit harsh when He told them this, John 8:42-44? I don’t believe He was. What do you believe?

        I see it different. Your church claims to be Gods only true church whether the laity and clergy are working together or not. The church real world outcome proves its exclusive claim or not. Jesus was very clear about this in John 8:31-59 where He told them, in effect, you are not at all who you believe you are and because your corrupt in comparison to Me. Christ saw right through them and all the exclusive defense claims they were making about themselves. It’s easy to do the same with the EO who are corrupt and cultic.

        I personally attend a large church that is not corrupt or cultic. It is safe, healthy, functional, alive, dynamic and growing based upon a foundation of Christ alone and nothing else. Orthodoxy is based upon Christ and a lot of something else.

        Now after reading me do you know why the church I attend is not cultic or corrupt? I do not belong to a Gods only true church, but my church practices the truth of God and that is why it is not corrupt or cultic. Jesus was very clear in the Gospels if you are really listening. He tells us to run the other direction from corruption and do not become involved with it in any way, shape or form. Apostle Paul was clear about this too and he worked to keep the church clean of corruption and you can read for yourself where and how that he did. He put the whole church on the line in refusing to compromise with Peter in Galatians. Had Peter not repented Paul would have just rolled over and not divided from his corruption and allowed it to stay to poison the salvation of Christ in the Holy Spirits church?

        What do you read Jesus saying about corruption in the Gospels? What do you read Paul saying about it in the NT?

        Are we to embrace and have Christian fellowship with corruption and cultism? Are we to allow it to be the shepherd pastoral leadership of the church? Your bishops and metropolitan’s are the direct spiritual line of the Apostles? Show me one Paul like apostle metropolitan in the GOA. It is the archbishop? Is it the EP? Difficult, if not harsh realities?

        Orthodoxy is harsh. It is harshly imploding crashing down on it disintegrating foundation and because Gods only true church does not have Christ alone as its foundation proving it is not at all who it exclusively claims to be. That is the harsh reality of Orthodoxy. I know why its foundation is disintegrating and because I know what its foundation is made of and what structure was made on that kind of a foundation. It is not easy to look into it and see it and it even less easy speaking into it. You speak what you see and it is not beautiful Orthodoxy that has no comparison. I do the Jesus comparison of it in comparison to beautiful Jesus who has no comparison and the Orthodox are not even close to the Jesus I personally know, read about in the Bible and whom I conduct ministry with the others who are truly Christ like.

        Ted, I give you with this months late reply because I only look in everyone once in a while and because it is really just circular without solution never ending cycle of the same two Orthodox priorities that are:

        1. Corruption and then arguing over the corruption and never finding a solution to it and it is always like a circular firing squad of blaming each other for the demographic collapse, failure to grow by real evangelism and incapable of really listening to anyone but yourselves as to what the core cause issues are and what their solutions can only be.
        2. Continual arguing over Orthodoxy itself and in that I see and read almost nothing Jesus Christ spiritually mature, alive, dynamic, positive, safe, healthy, functional, growing or relevant to our society in any form of rescue a lost world outreach.

        I have come to a clear understanding through extensive church growth and relevancy development passion in calling of the six priorities of Jesus in the Gospels that are to be the priorities of the Holy Spirit’s church under His authority:

        1. Love Jesus First
        2. Love Others Like Jesus Loves Others Second
        3. Jesus Spiritual Warfare
        4. Worship Jesus
        5. Live for Jesus
        6. Rescue Like Jesus Rescues

        I don’t see Christ as the foundation of Orthodoxy in America and I do see it practicing these six priorities of Jesus seen in the Gospels. The first five priorities result in priority six. I came to this conclusion by being what the Orthodox call Christians like me, a heretic who practices apostasy and does not have salvation in comparison to Gods only true church the Eastern Orthodox Church. Can you see how I used heresy and apostasy to come to the conclusion about these six priorities? Is that a harsh question asked in the context of a harshly stated paragraph?

        I attend a Rescue Like Jesus Rescues model church that reaches into the church itself and the outside world with love like Jesus loves that leads to heal like Jesus heals through rescue like Jesus rescues. It effectively reaches into itself in Jesus relational spiritual maturity growth and relevancy development and so that it can effectively outreach outside of itself with the same. It is a living and breathing Holy Spirit organism church designed to rescue people out of the fallen world. It’s internal church culture is inclusive, safe, healthy and functional. It is not perfect, but it is Christ centered functional. There is not an Orthodox cathedral or parish in America close to what it does in outreach outside of itself. There is not a jurisdiction that does either. It is currently going through a positive Christ transformational paradigm shift and it is a shift no Orthodox jurisdiction could ever make and not even if Orthodoxy in America was POU. I say that because I am not inside of a closed, isolated, segregated and subjective church system that cannot objectively stand outside of itself and see clearly back into itself.

        The church I was discipled in is designed by its DNA to be self exposing, confronting, protesting and holding itself transparent and accountable no matter how ugly it is. Google, Signs of a Dying Church, Dysfunctional Church, Shame Based Church, Toxic Faith, Spiritual Abuse, Christian Cults, etc. Don’t expect to find anything Orthodox when you do. I suppose Gods only true church by being what it claims in its Orthodox Mind to be does not need to expose itself to itself in such ways? That would be too Protestant like and too western rational modern Christianity for all of you?

        Really the best resource the Orthodox can utilize is from Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5: 1-13.

        Call such men, His Divine All Holy the EP of the EOC. Titles make you divine and all holy, right? The only divine all holy I know is Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit. Everyone else falls short of that by a lot. Divine All Holy are adjectives of idolatry when applied to any man and no matter what the idolatrous Orthodox justification of the use of them is.

        Yes, by embrace them, hold them up, keep them and honor them as your senior church leaders and then wonder what happened to the foundation of your church and why it is in a state of demographic collapse.

        If you are afraid of looking at Christian resources outside of your church for identification of problems and their solution for fear of it turning you into Protestant you can always read the Gospels and NT. The fear you have there is being potentially being turned into a real Christian who lives by the six priorities of life of Christ in the Gospels. You might become living sacrifices for Christ who really live sacrificially other centered for Christ lives no matter what the risk, cost or sacrifice. Had you been doing that your church would not be in the failed state can’t RESCUE it state that it is in today.

        Just imagine. In 10, 20, 30 years+ your church will be in a state worse than it is today. Things are not going to get worse before they get better. They are only going to get worse. That is, they are going to become more harsh on all of you. Yes, I know it is really harsh of me telling you the harsh reality of this. I’m a cream puff compared to what all of you together are bringing as a future to your church.

        Two to five years after POU becomes a reality for the Orthodox in America what will happen? When it goes POU I will predict it and it will come true. All of my predictions of the Orthodox come true. All of them.

        • Ashley,
          As we walk the final days to Holy Pascha, let’s focus on The One Needful Thing, Christ’s Passion, Death & Resurrection. I do hope you are a member of His One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, or will be.
          Please guard against the pride of posting “the harsh reality of this.” Take that partial truth that’s given you to see, and ponder it in your heart.
          Lastly, why not let us try to distill our thoughts/posts to 5-6 sentences.
          Whether Easter for you is the 5th or the 12th, may The Risen Christ bring us all rejoicing, that no matter what the division, intrigue or challenge, He is OUR Reality, His is The Victory.

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