We Are Not Under One Umbrella

By dogcatcher on February 26th, 2012

 

We Are Not “Under one Umbrella”

The Ephraimite movement has changed the perspective upon those who remain Faith abiding. During the supervision of our faith by Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory one would not have imagined an attempt to defend the indefensible. But, like a very bad nightmare that has taken a life of its own, this is what we hear from our clergy. Rare is the Priest that will directly confront the issue of the Ephraimites. Some will not even engage in a discussion about the issues that surround the Ephraimites. Do faith abiding Priests and Hierarchs owe a duty to rightfully educate our laity? Do we as members of the laity have a duty to guard the faith?

We have had conversations with both faith abiding Priests and those who profess to be the spiritual followers of Elder Ephraim or one of his surrogates. Naturally their perspectives are different. On the one hand you have the Faith abiding Priests who clearly define the problem and its effects on the Metropolises and the laity. Then you have the Ephraimite clergy defending religious practices that can only be characterized as fanatic and heretical.

After you have engaged either of the two aforementioned groups among our clergy, what is left is heartbreaking. The Ephraimite clergy have been allowed to define the dialogue on the Ephraimite issue with the laity. They insult the intelligence of the laity who care enough to ask about the problem by telling them that we all belong to one Church. It is unacceptable to be instructed that the Greek Orthodox Faith abiding laity come under one umbrella with those who practice heresy. Have we lost our collective path so completely that we now believe that one monk living in a palace in Arizona is the consummate authority of our faith? It is important to know that the People of God, the clergy and the laity together have the role of Guardians of the Faith. We all have the responsibility to guard and preserve the faith. That role begins with knowing the faith.

“Aerial tollhouses” are not part of our faith even though certain misguided Greek Orthodox Priests believe in “aerial tollhouses” a concept that is both heretical and destructive to our faith. When you ask some of the Ephraimite Clergymen about this fanatic teaching and why it is not taught at the seminary they respond that the seminary is controlled by “modernists”. Some will even tell you that there is a “progressive element” in control of the school and the Church as a whole. Who is teaching them this? Why has the perspective of some of our clergy that follow this monk become so flawed?

This particular heresy can be understood if you comprehend why it was resurrected from the religious hall of shame. The “aerial tollhouse” story gives a so-called “spiritual leader” or “spiritual father” control of our salvation. As one well-read Orthodox Hierarch stated “if aerial tollhouses do exist, and our souls are being judged by Satan or his agents, then we are all praying to the wrong god”? How then do we all come “under one umbrella”?

This is a good question to ask, but, a very difficult one to answer. Is the division of the faithful as simple as some Priests growing beards while others are clean shaven? Or is it based on some Priests wearing Rasa while others wear suits? Clearly, no, and those that support this website would not have a problem with the “under one umbrella” answer given to us by so many of our clergymen if these were the issues that divide us.

The real reason that the “under one umbrella” concept is an inaccurate understanding of what is occurring is because it is a fallacy and outright heresy. We have heard too many Ephraimites and their clergy disparage and belittle the faith abiding Priests and laity among us. The “I don’t see that Priest as spiritual”, or the he is a “modernist” or “protestant influenced Priest” is not aimed at keeping all of us “under one umbrella”. It is no better for the laity. The “country club” Christians the “country club mentality” or the “nominal Christians” or other characterizations have gone too far. Does anyone reading this article remember a time in the life of our Church in America when one segment of the faithful so sadistically attacked their fellow parishioners? This division of Greek Orthodox coincides with the expansion of Ephraimite monasteries in this country. Why is this happening? We have heard many comments from the laity that the Ephraimites are not even Christians because they do not follow the peaceful and loving messages of Jesus. Can we all be “under one umbrella” when the fanatics among us push the Faith abiding out from under it. Why do Faith abiding clergy and some laity accept the divisive behavior and labeling caused by this Ephraimite movement within the Church?

The time has come for all to stand up to this fanatic element within our faith. We Orthodox Christians have a responsibility to our faith to stop fringe elements from defining our faith. Many good and Faith abiding Priests that have suffered and endured such false characterizations as “that Priest is not spiritual” or that all persons baptized by a certain Priest were baptized improperly and they will be blind in heaven. Each of us has a duty to speak loudly against such improper teachings and practices. We must remember that we all are the guardians of the faith which means we have responsibilities. Those who sit silently by and “only go to Church to light my candle” are perpetuating the ever growing harm to our faith. Your inaction, neglect, or indifference is slowing allowing the fanatics to use the infrastructure of our Church to hijack and destroy it. “The purpose and function of the Hierarchy is precisely to keep pure and undistorted the Tradition in its fullness, and if and when it sanctions or even tolerates anything contrary to the truth of the church, it puts itself under the condemnation of canons.” Problems of Orthodoxy in America: The Canonical Problem,” St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 2, 1964, pp. 68-69.

The arrogance of the Ephraimite clergymen can be best illustrated by one of their leaders and his treatment of his non-Ephraimite clergy brothers. It has been reported to us by numerous sources that on two different occasions a leader of the Ephraimite Priests would not let two Faith abiding Priests participate in baptisms they were attending at his Parish. It is believed that the Priest prohibited his brethren from participating because they were not the spiritual followers of Elder Ephraim and were rumored to have not fully immersed their laity in baptism at their respective Parishes. Any Priest that does this will one day answer to God. We know that our loving God will show more mercy to the discriminating priests than Ephraimite Priests have shown to their fellow Faith based clergy brothers. Our faith does not discriminate in this manner. Again, 15 to 20 years ago, this kind of disassociation did not occur. Ask yourselves again, why this is occurring now. What is the goal of some of these Ephraimite monasteries?

To our Faith abiding Orthodox Clergy please keep some things in mind when you answer the questions of your laity as they relate to the Ephraimites;

1. We are intelligent faith abiding Orthodox Christians; please do not insult our intelligence with a simplistic explanation for the wide division in the Church by telling the faithful we all come “under one umbrella”.

2. Do not assume that all of us are unaware of the problems that are growing with the advent of the Ephraimites and their “spin” on our Orthodox theology.

3. Please address the issues that confront the faithful from the Ephraimites. The faithful need leadership and guidance. We do not need nor do we deserve fairy tales. It also is insulting to offer us the Ephraimite line on what is occurring within our faith.

4. Please bring these Ephraimite related matters to the attention of your Hierarchs. They are commanded by our faith to lead the flock that follows them. They need to hear and to understand the problem is growing. We understand that many of you have lost your desire to deal with this issue, but for the sake of your laity do not give up. Turn up the pressure; take a stand for those that do not have access to the Hierarchy. If you are threatened with transfer, we will help you expose the retaliatory actions of the Hierarchs.

5. The clergy must defend the peace of the Church. We respectfully request that each of you protect us from known heresies and those that contradict the established teachings of our faith.

6. Do not support those clergy among you that are promoting an agenda of a vengeful God, support those who see a loving and caring God.

And most importantly, do not allow the misguided Ephraimites to lead Faith abiding Orthodox Christians away from their true faith. Shepherd your flock and protect them always.