DEAFENING SILENCE

By dogcatcher on February 26th, 2012

(Confessions of a GOTRUTHREFORM Editor) 

I am one of many who have changed the course of their religious life as a result of the Ephraimites. Before I was personally affected by this “movement”, I was a happy and content Greek Orthodox Christian living a quiet family life in the Metropolis of Chicago where I was raised. I cannot say the same for my disposition today. The Ephraimite issue has changed my life and my view of our Greek Orthodox Church and its leadership.

I was baptized and grew up in one of the Parishes of the Metropolis of Chicago. I served as an Altar Boy and was even a tonsured reader, an honor bestowed upon me by the late His Grace Bishop Timotheos of blessed memory. This early memory was and will always be cherished by me.

My wife and I were married at her Greek Orthodox Parish as is customary. Nevertheless, given both our families’ long term history with my parish, we were committed to supporting the ministries at my home parish. That commitment manifested itself into almost three decades of participation on the Parish Council. I had the pleasure of serving as President, Treasurer, Picnic Chairman and various other positions throughout my years there.

My immediate family was also completely engaged in the Parish life and more importantly in our Faith. We were at our former Parish almost every Sunday, even in those summer months where many of the faithful go missing. We tried to never take a Sunday off, we really felt good about worshipping and being part of a larger community. My wife taught Sunday school, my daughters were “Mirofores” and my son served in the Altar for many years. I grew up with a reverence and respect for anything related to our Faith. I never would have or could have believed that one day I would not just leave the Parish, but would want to run for the exit door. Yet, as I look back on my journey away from my Parish I realize that the new Priest was promoting an agenda and polluting my fellow Parishioners with heresy based upon the teachings of his confessor s’ “Spiritual Fathers”. Given ample opportunity to refute these doctrines, his silence was all I needed to accelerate my departure. However, there was a lot more than just silence.

At first I thought it odd that my new Priest and his family would vacation at a nearby Monastery under the Spiritual direction of Elder Ephraim, currently of Florence Arizona. The agenda was not obvious right away. Certainly, there were those that sensed a problem immediately. While others, to this very day, neither understand nor do they see any problem. My breaking point came when I realized that nothing that came out of my mouth really mattered to him. I had always enjoyed a dialogue with our former Priest. Yet this new Priest never committed to anything nor did he admit to anything. I soon realized there was nothing I could do to stop Heretical teachings, which is when I decided to leave.

I identified myself as one of the editors of this website in the title. I am responsible for the management of this site. I have read every email sent to this site and have identified a common thread. If asked under oath to give you a primary characteristic among the Ephraimite Clergy it would be the willingness to LIE! For example, they can teach their fellow Ephraimites about “Aerial Tollhouses” and that it is “accepted” Orthodox Theology, and when you ask them about it they say things like “someone misunderstood me” or “I do not remember” or even “I never said that”.

As I read these emails and watch this unfold, I realize that the Ephraimite Movement has become so entrenched in our Metropolis that it is slowly becoming the rule and not the exception. Through their leadership, the Ephraimite Clergy seem to be holding all the cards. I ask myself why? Now I ask myself what will happen in the Metropolis of Pittsburgh or Atlanta where we are receiving more and more emails identifying Priests who have moved to the dark side? Will anything be done?

Growing up in the Faith I was taught and believed that our Hierarch’s role was to serve as an Icon of Christ in our midst. I believed then, as I do now, that their primary role was to teach the Gospel, uphold the Faith, and to teach that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, the Alpha and the Omega. Moreover, I understood that ministering to and protecting their flock was the primary the reason their roles existed in our Hierarchical Church. Their responsibility to all of us comforted me as I grew in my Faith.

As I write this article today I will give you the first of my confessions. I must confess to our readers that I lived with what I now know is a misunderstanding of the role of the Hierarchs in the Metropolis. Instead of leadership, I see indifference. Scores of Greek Orthodox Clergymen have written us emails asking us to continue our work. Would we have a website if the Hierarchy faced this heretical movement? The problem here and in several other Metropolises is obvious. Those who have a duty to God to protect and proclaim the Faith simply lack the conviction of their own Faith to do so.

They find the time and energy to harm and criticize the reputations of those who work to solve this problem. Yet, not once have they had the courage of their alleged convictions to walk into the Parishes of their Ephraimite Clergy and tell their heretical priests or their Parishioners that:

1. We do not have a theology that believes in Aerial Tollhouses.
2. We do not think that married couples should live like brother and sister and have separate beds or even bedrooms.
3. We do not think that you will be blind in Heaven if you are not fully immersed in Baptism.
4. We do not believe that Catholics and certain Protestants require re-Baptism.
5. We do not think that certain Ordained Greek Orthodox Clergymen that do not have beards or do not have an Ephraimite Spiritual Father are performing sacraments that are invalid.
6. We do not believe that only those that follow a theology of Monastic guiding principles can hope to be eligible for eternal life, while those who do not see Elder Ephraim as a living saint are preordained for hell.

At this point I could continue with the above list; you literally have no idea what we have observed, heard and what has been reported to us. This perversion of our Faith and those who support it saddens me every time I think about it. These and countless other heresies are being fed to our laity. Equally disconcerting is the “bubble” existence of the Ephraimites, whether they are members of the Clergy or Laity. When you engage them in a general discussion they are fine and quite normal. Try talking to them about the issues emanating from the Ephraimite Monasteries or challenge the teachings of their Elder or Ephraimite Spiritual Father and discover what I have. First there is dullness in their eyes and then it happens. They turn off their critical thinking and hear nothing you say, and you immediately become an outcast and an enemy.

How did this happen in our modern world? In a world that is replete with open dialogue and easy access to information. My own theory is that these adherents to the Ephraimite theology are starving for direction and leadership. These factors cause them to buy into the distorted teachings of our Faith. The Ephraimites universally feel betrayed by our leaders, Hierarchs and Lay leaders alike. Where is the response or plan of our leadership to this movement? I often wonder what reality they live in.

Several times I have asked myself how we Greek Orthodox Christians moved away from the teaching that Jesus Christ alone gave himself so that we could be saved. Through articles posted on this website, we have asked the Hierarchs of our institution to write on the misdirected teachings of Ephraimite Clergy. They could have easily written or even spoken on any of the subjects proclaiming the faith in a non-confrontational manner by selecting a particular heresy and dispelling its validity. For example, on the topic of aerial tollhouses, how difficult would it be for any Hierarch to proclaim that our focus of salvation is on the teachings contained in the Bible and not on any monk’s theory? In the absence of any dialogue on these issues, our faith becomes distorted. The Ephraimites prefer you to believe that they too have sacrificed so that we can be saved and that they have full knowledge of what God has intended for us. This is spiritual arrogance. The deafening silence of our Church leaders has created a vacuum that is filled with tacit approval of a distorted doctrine. Left unchallenged by those charged with protecting the faith, the Ephraimite movement shall lead to the co-opting and destruction of the Greek Orthodox faith, the Archdiocese and ultimately the institution of our Church as it has existed before the movement began approximately twenty years ago. What the Hierarchs are not reporting to the Archbishop, the Clergy-Laity and the Patriarchate is the number of members who have left our faith and the number of churches that have blown up. This is their dirty little secret.

At this time, I owe the readers my own confessions as they relate to our Faith:

1. I attend Church once a month which is not the example I want to set and the life I have experienced;
2. I now encourage other Greek Orthodox Christians to avoid visiting any monastery. I realize that this is detrimental to Non-Ephraimite Monasteries but I do not think it is worth the risk because most people do not have the time or energy to determine which monasteries promote blind spiritual obedience and heresy.
3. I confess that I have lost respect for even some of the faith abiding clergy. Some of the non-Ephraimite clergy in our Metropolis have become weak enablers. In our Metropolis, we have a fair number of fence sitters. Some have become too self-absorbed to realize that I am referring to them. They work hard at not saying anything. Nevertheless, they will confess their disdain for the movement to their fellow non-Ephraimite clergy. When a lay person tries talking to them, they automatically assume the infected priest’s position. Their idea of protecting the faith includes insulting the intelligence of their faith-abiding laity.
4. Before our parish was co-opted by an Ephraimite Priest, I respected every single member of our parish council. I further confess that during the conversion of our parish, I struggled with a diminishing respect for the Ephraimite Priest’s new “spin doctors”. These individuals, both men and women, could literally explain away any irrational or heretical comment made by their new “Spiritual Father”. One thing I did learn about the conversion of innocent unsuspecting lay members is that their conversion took place only after “one confession”. A single confession to an Ephraimite priest completely co-opts the will and individuality of that layperson. This is another reason that Monasteries that I once viewed as heaven on earth now give me the opposite reaction. I am now defined as a “nominal Christian” by my former Ephraimite Priest.

Yet my faith is undiminished as I maintain my focus on our Lord Jesus Christ who paid the one and only ransom for our salvation. The foundation of what we believe is that salvation comes through faith and by the grace of God, not salvation by prescription which is what the distorted Ephraimite theology promotes. The very arrogance to profess complete knowledge of what God intends is misleading and dishonest.

For the Hierarchs and clergy who promote these heretical teachings through their deafening silence or commission, I can only remind them that their ordination was a sacrament and ask them is the focus today the same as it was on the day of their ordination?