By dogcatcher on February 25th, 2012
  Conversation with… During a graduation party, the subject of Orthodox theology came up during dinner. The young man introduced himself as “Andy” (name has been changed). He began talking to us by saying that he had recently authored a speech about the late Patriarch, His All Holiness, Athenagoras, founder of the Holy Cross School of Theology. Andy reported that in his speech, he criticized Athenagoras, calling him a heretic, mainly because of the meeting he had with Pope Paul VI in 1964, which created the Catholic-Orthodox Joint declaration. In addition, Andy also blasted the current Patriarch Bartholomew, accusing him of being a freemason, but more astonishing was that he characterized the Patriarch as the “Anti-Christ”. He said that freemasonry goes against Church doctrine and anyone who is a freemason is a heretic. Andy blatantly stated that the Patriarch is taking the Church away from its traditional foundation. He supported his belief by saying that Patriarch Bartholomew is hindering the monks on Mount Athos, as a result of a dispute over land, and he especially found fault with the Patriarch for allowing the late Pope John Paul II to allegedly con-celebrate the Orthodox Divine Liturgy and for regularly meeting with leaders of other Christian faiths. It is not unusual to disagree with a hierarch but to repeatedly call the Patriarch the “Anti-Christ” was very alarming. What was most disturbing was the venom that was coming out of his mouth. It was not that he was just upset, it was that he appeared very froth with anger. The conversation then turned to the subject of Elder Ephraim who was identified by one of the participants as the leader of a fanatical religious movement within the Greek Orthodox faith. Andy was taken aback, claiming that the Elder’s theology is the right theology, as it is bringing the Church back to its “traditional” days. When asked how far back he feels that the Church should go to be considered “Traditional”, Andy said the Third Century. He dismissed the notion that the Church changes with society. He felt that any change was induced by the “evil one” or outside forces. Some outside forces discussed included the Jews, Roman Catholics, Freemasons, the Order of AHEPA or the Protestants. He had a defined opinion on each of these groups including the belief that certain groups had a plan to undermine Orthodoxy. When someone countered with a question asking Andy about the Holy Canons, saying that many of them are difficult to follow in modern-day society, he disagreed. Also, he claims that in order for the Church to be “traditional”, the clergy and laypeople must follow the Holy Canons, even those outdated and no longer practiced canons which prohibit contact with other religious groups. Additionally, Andy said that his Proistamenos is not a “traditional” priest and feels that his parish should be like St. John the Baptist in Des Plaines, IL, which he alleges is a “traditional” parish filled with lots of “traditional” Orthodox Christians. Andy was then asked who was educating him about Elder Ephraim and these teachings, and Andy responded that it was one of his Sunday school teachers. Furthermore, Andy spoke a great deal about the book of “Revelations”, saying that it will be the Church of the minority that will be saved and not other Christian faiths, as well as non Christian ones. He said that the Church was damaged to the point of no return when the Calendar change occurred in 1924. His spoke of this like it was the death knell for Orthodoxy. He stated this change was a fulfillment of prophesy contained in Revelations and that the Patriarch that agreed to this recanted it on his death bed. We found it quite amazing that a young man is quoting and has the ability to decipher “Revelations”, even though numerous theologians throughout the years have said that this part of the Bible cannot be understood literally. It is not our prerogative to understand the “Revelations” or worry about the context of them, but rather always be prepared for that day, and the true Christians will know when that time comes. It is nonsense that Ephraimites claim that they can decipher the “Revelations” and they throw around the word “Anti-Christ” like its commonplace. Finally, Andy commented on baptism, saying it was a necessity for Orthodox to be fully immersed; otherwise they should not be considered part of the “traditional” faith. He said that while other Christians may know the grace of God, they have the “potential “ to get to heaven, however, unless they accept all the dogma as approved by the “traditional” Elders of our faith naming Elder Ephraim, and also are rebaptised and fully immersed they will never know God’s grace. Conclusion You have just read the documentation of statements made by a young man. In order to protect this young man, his name had to be changed. We are alarmed and ashamed that someone this young and impressionable has been taught these fanatic teachings by anyone in the Metropolis of Chicago. We cannot even call this a fanatic form of Orthodox Theology. We believe it is a form of hate. This student has been taught to identify his form of theology as a “traditional” form of theology. These heretical teachings are damaging the minds of our youth. The reason we are discussing this event is because it is not an isolated incident but instead representative of many other anecdotal accountings we receive almost on a daily basis. For example, it has been reported to us that: 1. Five and 6 year old students are being taught that if they do not say and count out their prayers on their prayer ropes on a daily basis, their fathers will not go to heaven; 2. Pre-schoolers are reporting that they are “sinners” and that the evil one is after them; 3. Young children are told that they will go to hell and burn for trick or treating during Halloween; 4. Children have been told that if they play card games, they will go to hell; 5. Young adults are now actively reporting that they cane themselves in order to remain faith abiding. These are a few incidents of spiritual abuse we have uncovered. Metropolitan Iakavos or the Bishop need to speak out against such fanatic teachings and practices. This young man is obviously highly impressionable. Who is feeding him or any of our youth these teachings of fear and hate? Our hierarchs must speak out to protect the minds of our impressionable youth.