On Rigor Mortis of the Church

6

Source: Classical Christianity

I think that one of the most important problems facing the Orthodox Church in Russia, and even beyond its borders, is the ideological rigor mortis of the Church. The Church is considered as a kind of dead body; it is thought to be frozen and that nothing should be changed in it. It is understandable that we should not change dogmatics and Church Tradition — no one argues with that. However, the problem is that people try to preserve superstitions and false ideology, and, what is worse, they try to hang onto bad remnants of the Soviet period. I have traveled throughout the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, and I see one and the same picture everywhere. People do not know God or how salvation takes place; and all of their time is taken up with completely unimportant matters such as the minutiae of this or that rite, the details of this or that church policy, or one regional view or another.

In my opinion, it is an enormous misfortune that people have lost their Christ-centeredness. People have forgotten about the fact that we are, first of all, Christians, the children of God the Father and of Christ, and that we must move toward holiness and salvation. As a part of this, one sees a controversy over the frequent reception of Holy Communion, which unites us with the Lord. Some people think that it’s not that important, that one can somehow “earn” one’s salvation. However, they do not realize that this is the heresy of Pelagius — that one can earn one’s salvation by one’s own effort.

On the other hand, the standard of church life that they expound is sinful, pure and simple; it is a distortion of the real Church Tradition. For instance, one hears that Russians, because they are Russian, are already Orthodox. In one article that I read, I saw the assertion that even atheists are truly Orthodox, if they are part of the Russian culture. This is the replacement of faith with culture. Orthodoxy is God’s revelation, preserved in pure form since the times of the Apostles. One now sees efforts by some to replace the New Testament with national myths, including old ones that the Church has always fought against.

…Paganism often disguises itself in the Church under the appearance of Christianity — not in overt exterior manifestations, but hidden under a facade of pietism. People forget that their goal is to reach sanctity. Some of them believe it is a sin even to think of such a possibility, that they could reach sanctity, even though it is a fulfillment of a direct commandment of the Lord. We should spare no effort to overcome this problem. To overcome this, we must issue a new call for people to return to holiness. For this, it is necessary that we revive catechesis throughout the entire Church. Even those who are already baptized should study the Faith. People must know in Whom they believe, and what they should do in order to approach Him. People coming to church see it as an assembly line of spiritual services. They are not offered any spiritual growth; therefore, they go to the sectarians.

People think, in error, that sects are easier than the Orthodox. Recently, I had a chance to associate with Pentecostals. I learned that it is their practice to pray five hours during the day. What Orthodox Christian prays five hours a day? Sectarianism is the consequence of the Church not informing people of the commandments of the Lord, commandments that our Lord expects us to fulfill. The Gospel is seen as nothing but a collection of pious sayings; it is not seen as a means of real contact with God. We so fear being seduced by the world that we end up doing nothing. This is a terrible spiritual problem. If we do not overcome it, very many Christians will be ruined. It is an ideology of rigor mortis. It is not conservatism; rather, it is the murder of the Church. (The Orthodox Word No. 268, 2009, pp. 213-215)  

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6 Comments

  1. Alexis Sneezenoff on

    The right-wing factions of Orthodoxy believe what you are saying above. Many of those “rigorist” or “traditional” so-called Orthodox, are in reality, uneducated. For instance, in America, it is time to develop our own Typikon based on practical, pragmatic Orthodox practice. No one attends Vigils (Vespers & Matins) on Sat. eve. Like the Greeks, Vespers on Sat. night, Matins on Sun. Morn. before Divine Liturgy. Wearing liturgical hats is ridiculous along with high-back vestments. Confession EVERY time before Communion is received isn’t even Orthodox. How about funerals to resemble the Resurrection with only white and the Resurrection Canon? etc.

    • Alexis is correct. Orthodoxy needs to return to its roots and not to the glories of Byzantium. Among the practices that need to be corrected include the correct and canonical calculation for the celebration of Pascha, recognition and full communion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the immediate practice of ordaining deaconesses to facilitate the distribution of the sacraments to the faithful.

      Nonetheless, change is happening despite the foot dragging of our hierarchs and their arcane synods. Today in the overwhelming number of mixed marriage families, Orthodox spouses are worshiping with their non-orthodox partners, and many of us in our pluralistic society find ourselves attending and participating in non-orthodox weddings, funerals, confirmations, bar mitzvahs, etc. Therefore, in order for Orthodoxy to be a viable member and player in the global Christian community and a confessor of Christ and His Salvation, it needs to act more like Metropolitan Ambrosius of Helsinki who acknowledged and prayed with the female bishop of the Lutheran Church of Finland.

    • Anthony Carris on

      Alexis, Christ is Risen!, I read your comment of April 27th., You seem not at home in the anchient Orthodox Church. I believe you need to move on to one of the twenty thousand Prosestant Churches that have protested and changed the Typikon to meet their intellectual needs and not of the thousands of modern Coptic and Ox. Martyrs who are being beheaded and crucified as I write…ask the mothers of the dozen naked crucified Ox. Woman I viewed two days past…Why they are right wing stupid individuals who do not want change and are willing to die for it. Anthony Carris

  2. Ashley Nevins on

    This is well written and it almost identifies the cause of the Orthodox collapse and salvation problem.

    Jesus + Something Else = Corrupted church and salvation

    Jesus + Idolatry = Corrupted church and salvation

    Orthodoxy is a top down centralized structure of authoritarian power and control that is a exclusive, closed, isolated, segregated and subjective system.

    The Orthodox structure and system of hierarchical rule is not how Jesus came to us in Philippians 2:1-17. It is the set up of idolatry of its structure and system and those who rule it and that is exactly what has happened to Orthodoxy. It is highly self centered and self protective due to its exclusive idolatrous viewpoint of itself.

    Jesus + We Are Gods Only True Church = Self Idolatry of the Orthodox structure and system and those who rule it.

    In America the idolatrous props church/state, exclusive claim, culture, ethnicity and authoritarian power and control that hold Orthodoxy up in places like Russia and Greece do not work here. In freedom of religion a church has to stand up on it own two Jesus feet and walk. The Orthodox props in America have been knocked out from under it resulting it falling to the floor and it is not going to stand back up. It will try to use the very props that cannot hold it up to try and stand it up and it will simple collapse right back down to the floor incapable of standing up. It will try to use them because it their idolatry.

    The collapse of the props that cannot hold Orthodoxy up in America expose the props that are really holding it up in places like Russia and Greece. In other words, the Orthodox came to America in a collapsed state and it just took time for the consequences of that collapse to catch up with them. Immigration, marriage and birth are props that the Orthodox tried to use to prop themselves up with here and now they have all collapsed and Orthodoxy along with them. The ethnic ghetto great commission does not work.

    The Bible tells that Christ alone is to be the foundation of a church. If anything else becomes the foundation it will weaken it and then the day comes that the foundation collapses and church implodes in on itself dues to the fractures of those other idolatrous things weakening it to the point of the foundation collapse.

    Jesus + Orthodoxy = The corruption of Christ corrupted by idolatry of Orthodoxy.

    I have the proof. Orthodoxy in America is corrupt, failed, irrelevant, cultic, abusive and in a state of foundational collapse.

    Orthodoxy came to America as an omission of Christ’s commission. It came here with Christ omitted. Christ has been replaced by the idolatry of Orthodoxy as Christ. The degree that Orthodox church demographically implodes is the degree that its foundation is built on self idolatry of itself.

    Self idolatry was the strategy Satan used in the Garden. It has two serious consequences, shame and death. Orthodoxy is a shame based church that is in a death spiral due to believing the lie in deception of the evil one of self idolatry. It was self idolatry of himself that got Satan thrown out of heaven. It is destroys salvation in a church by replacing Christ with something else and/or adding something else to salvation.

    Do the Orthodox know what the rational objective criterion of what determines a idolatrous Christian cult from a true Christ centered church that is not are?

    Idolatry is a closed system that will close out the Jesus Christ alone solution. When a church has reached a point of no return by idolatry it is not going to return to Christ. A church can reach a point of no return due to idolatry of some kind. To not believe that is not to believe that Jesus in the Gospels is warning not to turn His church into what He confronted in the Gospels and in places like this John 8:31-59. That is a comparison of the structure and system of Christ to one of self idolatry of itself and Christ exposes who the true ruler behind the scenes of it is. The more self idolatrous is a church the more that church in sin bondage control of the self idolator Satan.

    The foundational priorities of a church that protect its foundation from being corrupted by idolatry’s is Love Christ first and love others like Christ loves others second. Those who believe they are Gods only true church and Christians love themselves first. That exclusive claim is an idolatrous claim but no one can tell the Orthodox that because the claim is their foundation and now it has collapsed.

    It is all very simple to see what happened to Orthodoxy. Its idolatrous foundation has collapsed right under it and it is not going to be able stand back up based upon what collapsed it, but it will try to use those idolatrous props to stand it up and it will simply fall back to the floor in America. Every attempt to save Orthodoxy in America is going to fail and because they will all be based upon the idolatry that caused the failure of their church.

    When idolatry is your God then idolatry is the God used to try bring about a solution. When idolatry is your God idolatry is your salvation. Idolatry is the only solution the exclusive Orthodox have and it has collapsed as a solution. Orthodox salvation cannot save Orthodoxy.

    Idolatry of himself Satan is not Gods solution to the foundational collapse of Orthodoxy. However idolatry of himself Satan will deceived a church into self idolatry of itself to collapse its foundation and then when the church goes to try to save itself it will use the very idolatry that collapsed it and idolatry of himself Satan will use that idolatry to collapse any attempt to save it.

    Yes, I know, the Orthodox disagree with me about the reason for the foundational collapse of their church that all solutions used to try and save it fail. The cause of the slow, tortured, ugly and dying state of Orthodoxy is something other than self idolatry of themselves and their Orthodoxy in the Orthodox Mind that by its exclusive claim cannot be a idolatrous mind.

    A top down centralized authoritarian power and power control church is the structure of a cult and idolatry is its basis. That is the basic definition of a Christian cult church. Does the definition fit the EOC in America? Does the Orthodox exclusive claim of being Gods only true church and its top down centralized structure and closed system of authority protect it from being turned into a Christian cult or is it the set up to be turned into a Christian church? Look at the state of the church in America for your rational Christian objective answer.

    Not to worry Orthodox in America. The GOA metropolitan Gerasimos has a strategy to save the GOA and it will become the model to save the other jurisdictions. You can see at the diocese website. I would encourage you to look at it closely to see if their any idolatry being used in the foundation of it. I predict it will be in a state of strategy collapse about 2019. The strategy does state that it is Christ centered. Is it really or is that just window dressing hiding idolatry in the basis foundation of the church rescue strategy? Does the rescue boat have any holes in it that will sink it?

    The exclusive we alone are Gods only true church salvation of Orthodox salvation cannot save the Orthodox church from foundational collapse and so how many will it really bring the true salvation of Christ too within it? If Orthodoxy is the foundation of a persons salvation is it truly Christ alone + nothing else as salvation?

    The salvation of the enormously popular Greek Orthodox elder ephraim is Aerial Toll Houses.

    It is going to be interesting to see how many of those who claim to have Gods only true salvation are actually in heaven.

  3. Ashley Nevins – you describe NO Orthodox parish, bishop, priest, deacon or laity that I have ever met nor heard of. Everything we do in our parish is for Christ, about Christ and with Christ.

  4. Ashley Nevins on

    Morgan, welcome to the reality of the real Orthodox world in America and why it is corrupt, failed, irrelevant, cultic, abusive and dying. Sounds like I popped your closed, isolated and segregated bubble and gave you your first introduction to the problem. I speak about it differently than the Orthodox do.

    You notice that I don’t talk symptoms as the cause but instead go directly to the cause and don’t mince words about it. A lot of Orthodox do not like that. They believe I am harsh and their denial denies the harsh reality of the Orthodox church future in America.

    Do you believe Aerial Toll Houses is your salvation?

    You do not see any systemic corruption and cultism in Orthodoxy?

    Do you believe the ephraimite movement is safe, healthy and good for the church?

    The two largest jurisdictions in America are not demographically imploding?

    Do you believe Jesus in the Gospels came to us as a monastic and as church/state?

    Do you believe Christianity is an authoritarian closed system?

    Do you believe a church that is corrupt can be turned into a cult?

    Your parish is the model of Orthodoxy?

    Your jurisdiction is the model of Orthodoxy in America?

    You have never heard of corrupt clergy in Orthodoxy? (That is what you said)

    Morgan, there is a first time to hear something you have not heard before. I will tell you things Orthodoxy will not tell you and I will explain why Orthodoxy will not tell you. In other words, I will tell you things an authoritarian closed system will not tell you and why it will not tell you. It is not beautiful Orthodoxy that has no comparison in how I explain it, but it is the reality of the real world dying church problem your church faces in America. It is not pretty and it is not what you have been closed, isolated and segregated system indoctrinated to believe. The Orthodox in America are facing many harsh realities about themselves in America they have not faced anywhere else before.

    Do you know what the Orthodox face in America that they have never faced anywhere before?

    In freedom of religion that is not church/state a church has to stand up on its own two Jesus feet and walk. What propped your church up in places like Greece and Russia do not prop it up here. The props have come out from under the church here and it has collapsed to the floor and cannot get up. The props are idol gods denied.

    Do you know what the idolatrous props are that do not hold your church up in freedom of religion, western, rational and modernity America?

    Is Orthodoxy pro freedom of religion, western, rational and modern?

    Did Jesus come to us as Jesus + Idolatrous prop ups or did Jesus come to us as Christ alone?

    Orthodoxy represents less than 1% of Christianity in America and so it has the most to lose and it is losing. That may not be your parish but if you look around you at the rest of the church you will see a different picture. I fully understand how a closed, isolated and segregated system church can keep you from seeing what I see and am pointing out. Its rather shocking to hear it spoken about in the direct uncompromising manner that I do and it often receives a denial response.

    So, you don’t believe that Orthodoxy is an authoritarian closed system? (Prove it.)

    The world outside of your parish is larger than your parish. A closed, isolated and segregated church indoctrination cannot see outside of that with objectivity. Your statement in response was highly subjective and lacked objective evidence to make your point.

    Closed and isolated segregation is highly subjective. Authoritarianism is self centered and therefore highly subjective. Exclusiveness is highly subjective. First time you ever heard that before too? Rational objective thinking for yourself is not a authoritarian closed isolation indoctrinated Orthodox strength.

    Thank you, for being the perfect example of closed, isolated and segregated indoctrination that is in subjective denial of the objective real world reality of your dying church in America.

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