“Holy Deception”

By dogcatcher on June 23rd, 2012

 

The words “Holy Deception” have been used together in a serious discussion about religion. Unfortunately, these words describe an important tactic used by many leaders of the Ephraimite movement. The use of Holy Deception is nothing new to religions. Some religions have called it “Pious Fraud”, “Spiritual Deception” or even “Moral Deception.” Generally, most people call it just what it is: a lie. Persons who use holy deception believe it is acceptable to lie to you or deceive you for your own spiritual growth. The rationalization is that “the ends justify the means”. In an ironic twist, the use of “Holy Deception” is supposedly used to support Christian Orthodox belief, including the Commandment against bearing false witness.

The Editors have written this article because of the large number of emails we received from victims who are unable to understand or accept the fact that they have been lied to. Usually people who seek help from a trusted Clergyman or friend do so never expecting that they may be (unintentionally or intentionally) misled by them. Yet, our emails continuously relay to us testimony based upon the use of the amorphous concept of “Holy Deception.” Our mission is to educate our readers about this tool used by some Ephraimites to conform one’s spiritual practice.

There are several aspects to this methodical use of lying which has been under certain circumstances justified in our faith. First, this phenomenon is nothing new in religion and it is has even been used by people professing a faith in Christianity before. One example of a precedent that has been cited is from a significant church father: St. John Chrysostom. Chrysostom wanted to evade being consecrated as a bishop. He told Basil (whom he loved) that he (Chrysostom) would be consecrated a Bishop if he (Basil) was. It was a ruse. He was manipulating Basil to become a bishop under the false pretense that he (Chrysostom) would be also (prior to Basil). Basil became consecrated a bishop thinking that Chrysostom already was elevated to a Hierarch. This is a commonly known historical fact. It was an intentional act of trickery that some mimic today “for a greater good”. (see Nicene Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1 Volume 9. St. Chrysostom: On the Priesthood; Ascetic Treatises; Select Homilies and Letters; Homilies on the Statutes)

Generally, these incidents, (as in the case of St. John Chrysostom) are subject to various interpretations of the motives of the one committing the “Holy Deception”. Perhaps it is used as a “white lie” of sorts. As illustrated in the case of Chrysostom, (where he did successfully use Holy Deception to achieve an end result) it is a case of the “ends justifying the means”. History has excused this action of Chrysostom and exonerated him because of his numerous wonderful actions and works after his elevation. The problem is that in this case of “Holy Deception” it is not just “the ends justifying the means”, but also that “Holy Deception” is placed in the context and light of “discernment” – a universally acknowledged gift. This misrepresentation by association is frightening! In the case of St. John Chrysostom he was canonized as a saint, although he was a human and like all of us, a sinner. But let’s not forget that there was only one St. John Chrysostom and this is not what we face today with the current use of Holy Deception.

Perhaps the most contemptible use of Holy Deception resides in the lies and falsehoods generated in scurrilous attacks upon the Faith abiding Clergy and against the Orthodox Church itself made by some Ephraimite adherents. It has been reported to us that Ephraimites have been telling the faithful that their own Parish Priest is not qualified to hear confession or that he is not spiritual enough to baptize their child.

We do not intend to denigrate Chrysostom by telling you he used this sort of deception, misleading statement, or even, lie. We deeply respect Chrysostom. But this case is being brought forth as an example to refute those people who improperly cite Chrysostom as a precedent for their use of “Holy Deception”; thus illustrating their manipulative arrogance. In effect, they are disrespecting Chrysostom.

One could reasonably argue that Chrysostom’s “deception” was harmless. After all, he ultimately was consecrated a Hierarch, so what’s the harm? The point is, when a respected leader has done something unwise and wrong, it cannot be used as a rationale for mimicking this behavior. Yet this is what is happening.
Normally those who see Holy Deception as a proper or acceptable subterfuge (deceit used in order to achieve one’s goal) must somehow rationalize it. Their justification for the lie is based on the author’s underlying belief that they have a greater or a more sacred discernment than the victim of the lie. Those who side with the use of Holy Deception as an acceptable tactic ask others to accept that its use is “Holy” and necessary to carry out the agenda of those Holier than us; and their acts purport “to lead those who are not as spiritual as we are”. Sadly, many Ephraimite Clergymen have been taught this valuable tool. They have now found a way to justify their deceitful actions by an “authorized” tool of the trade (in their estimation). They simply believe they have a path to the kingdom of God that requires them to say and do what is necessary to achieve the goals of their movement. For an excellent first hand account of the underhanded use of this tactic recently and graphically illustrated by a victim, please read: Ruth’s Blog – License to Lie http://gotruthreform.org/ruths-blog.
They believe that their way, that their understanding of their unique version of the Orthodox Faith has given them superior knowledge, discernment or judgment over the rest of us. Their basic premise is that their version of Orthodoxy is pure and the rest of us have compromised it because we are weaker, less spiritual, and even more sinful than they are.

When you are in a situation and have interaction with an Ephraimite, appreciate that they believe your personal judgment is imperfect and much inferior to their “special” knowledge and judgment. They believe that the judgment of their leader (the Elder Ephraim) is perfect and to make matters worse they see him as infallible. They are touting him as a living Saint. Consequently, because they believe that they are more enlightened, they believe they know more than you do. This, in their minds, qualifies them to do what is required to get you to accept their way.

Not all Clergymen who are adherents of the Ephraimite “theology” use this tactic. Some appear to use it all the time, while others thankfully have never lowered themselves to lying for their Elder. This is not a case of the Ephraimites only lying to people who are not adherents to their strange and unorthodox version of the Faith. Significantly, some Ephraimite clergy or laity will use the concept of Holy Deception even to their current or would-be followers. Strangely, this is where an interesting phenomenon occurs; it is remarkable how easily the leaders of the Ephraimite movement lie to their own followers, some of whom even happen to be fellow Orthodox Clergy. The Ephraimites have developed their own internal Hierarchy within each Metropolis. These leaders of the Ephraimite movement also use this tactic with the Hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and with fellow clergymen. For some, the ends always justify the means – even when they tend to damage long held friendships.

We have identified some of the ways the tool of Holy Deception is being used in the Metropolis of Chicago to deceive in order to promote their zealot teachings. Many innocent and faithful believe these unquestionably:

• Five and Six year old children are being taught that if they do not count their prayer bracelet’s knots a certain number of times a day, their fathers will never achieve salvation.

• Certain Orthodox Priests are “Spiritual,” while others are unqualified to serve as Priests (in the eyes of the Ephraimite followers), even though they are duly ordained.

• Only the Elder has the discernment to bless a potential spouse.

• The Elder is so Holy he speaks directly to God on a regular basis.

• The Anti-Christ is so fearful of the power of the Elder that he has influenced nominal Christians like faith abiding Priests to attack the Elder, his followers and their clergy too.

• The Elder levitates and glows a greenish color while deep in prayer.

• The Elder and his leaders are telling their followers that they are all going to be persecuted and some even martyred.

• Elder Ephraim has written that he had a vision of the Theotokos and she told him to go to America and bring the Greek Orthodox Church back to pure Orthodoxy. (This was subsequent to his spiritual father, Joseph the Hesychast, telling Ephraim, that they must get the Greek Orthodox Church in America to return to pure Athonite Orthodoxy.)

• After they finish having children, married couples are never to have sex again, and they can only achieve salvation if they live their remaining lives together like brother and sister.

• Only certain Priests, those who follow the teachings of Elder Ephraim, are capable of hearing confessions; even though the ones he disapproves of have been given the rank of a confessor by the Church.

• There is only one place to find “true Orthodoxy”: in the Monasteries of the Ephraimites.

• The Hierarchy is corrupt and their sole purpose is to administer the Church.

• Aerial Toll House belief is accepted as dogma – even though it is NOT in the Canons NOR in the Scripture. The use of Ephesians as a scriptural proof is a non universal (i.e., incorrect) understanding of this passage.

• To achieve salvation, you have to pass through all the toll houses, requiring the “holy monks” to pray for you to in order to do so successfully.

• Having absolute obedience to the Elder (and/or a spiritual father approved by him) will get you a “free pass” to get through the numerous aerial toll houses.

A fellow Editor shared his thoughts on Holy Deception. The views he expressed were enlightening and I believe will give you a slightly different perspective. On this subject I was told the following:

“You would think that this concept [of Holy Deception] would require a high mental hurdle to clear for understanding how Ephraimite Clergy can engage in this. However, unfortunately for those who understand the underpinnings [of the problems being generated], that is not the case. As children, we are taught through example to revere these men of the cloth. That they somehow possess a clearer understanding of what it means to be close to God. However, once we also realize that these men are no more or less like the rest of us, they can and are subject to the same human deficiencies plaguing all mankind. The problem comes when we forget that our mission as Christ loving and God-fearing individuals is to live a virtuous life so that we might receive the grace of God…..Priests and Hierarchs included! Once you can clear this hurdle of understanding, you can see where Holy Deception can be used as a tool to manipulate just as any human being can utilize the same to deceive in all their works. Unfortunately, when we suspend the belief that all men—including clergy—can fall prey to the human condition, then we forfeit our ability to question radical theology.”

We have had countless emails about Holy Deception from Laity across the country in all jurisdictions of the Orthodox Faith. The gotruthreform website has been averaging between 15,000 to 20,000 hits each month. The vast majority of these emails come from Parishioners of Greek Orthodox Parishes. Most of these emails concern discussions or interactions with an Ephraimite Priest at the center of the issue. It has been reported that at times, the Ephraimite has lied about the contact he has had or the things he has told a son or daughter of a parishioner who is not an Ephraimite adherent. The author of the email often complains to a local Hierarch, who then takes the side of the Ephraimite Priest. As we have heard said by a certain Metropolitan, it is easier to change the parishioner than to change the Priest.

When you read the emails we still receive from Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, Florida, California, Arizona, Virginia, Pennsylvania and many other states, you will see an ever-burgeoning pattern of deceit. You begin to wonder whether those that have been ordained as Holy Priests, and follow Ephraim, are mindful of several key passages of the Bible such as: 1 Timothy 1:7 “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm”. But the passage that seems to have no effect on them is James 3:1 “My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the severer judgment”.

We have received emails from our readers setting forth many of the key elements of a religion going bad. Experts in the area of “Bad Religion” (i.e. what some would consider “cults”) agree on four main warning signs. According to our emails, the tool of Holy Deception has been used by Ephraimites to convince the unsuspecting in many of these characteristically known problematic areas:

1. ”apocalyptic thinking, or eschatology, that the world is coming to an end, and true believers will enjoy unique rewards at the end-time;

2. charismatic leadership, where the leader dominates the followers spiritually, emotionally and sexually;

3. paranoia and demonization of outsiders, accompanied by intellectual isolation within a cloistered community;

4. preparations of an unusual nature, usually indicated by a buildup of guns, poisons and/or weapons of mass destruction.*” This might also include stock-piling of food in order to be prepared for some cataclysmic event.

*See “RELIGIOUS ZEALOTRY AND TERRORISM” at:
http://www.drtomoconnor.com/3400/3400lect04.htm. In many respects, these types of problematic tendencies mirror and are typical of the belief systems of some outrageously notorious cults. For a more in-depth discussion of how cultish thinking provides a basis for the Ephraimites to build their base of adherents, see the Editors’ companion article: How Do You Know You are in a Cult? Available at the link: http://gotruthreform.org/how-do-you-know-you-are-in-a-cult.

Many of you will ask whether the use of “Holy Deception” is perpetrated knowingly, by those who clearly know that they are lying about these things, or unknowingly by those who have taken the lies of others without critical examination. It is the Editors’ long held belief that this is a distinction that is of little consequence. Whenever a person of faith hears some statements that somehow do not sound as if coming from a benevolent and merciful God, whether the source is well-meaning or whatever other motivation may arise, it is incumbent on the true believer to closely examine the statements irrespective of the position and supposed superior knowledge of the source. The failure to take all the statements of a “Holy Man” at face value is not a questioning of the Faith, but should be viewed as a sincere effort to find the truth by achieving an understanding of all available viewpoints. We believe there is nothing wrong with questioning any belief of our Faith at all. This is how we learn and grow. As all men are sinners in the eyes of God, even Priests and Hierarchs, the things that they say should be considered with the possibility that all people may err in their path through this world, and none of us, even “Elder Ephraim,” are truly perfect. The only one who can claim perfection was the one who died on the Cross for us and only through his teachings and Grace can we achieve salvation.

Perhaps you believe that this problem is not substantial or, despite the recent trend to the opposite, that it will go away by the grace of God; after all, the Orthodox religion has been with us for almost 20 centuries. Think again. We are in the beginning stages of a movement of extreme Zealotry and profound Fundamentalism within the Orthodox Faith. As a Faith, we are headed in a direction that will push normal Faith abiding Orthodox Christians away from Orthodoxy and our Parishes will become bereft of reasonable Christians. Those who are adherents to the growing movement of Elder Ephraim already have a presence in the infrastructure of various Orthodox Jurisdictions. In time, the heresies generated through the use of Holy Deception will take their toll on all of us.