Saint Teophanus the Recluse
I cannot agree at all with your opinion…as if Christianity could change its dogmas, canons, holy services answering to the spirit of each epoque and adjusting to the changing tastes of the sons of this age as if it could be possible to add or remove something from it. Christianity must remain unchanged for ever without depending on or being directed by the spirits of the times.
On the contrary, Christianity is the one that leads the spirit of the time for every man who follows its guidance. We preach the teaching of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles and of the Holy Church guided by the Holy Spirit. In the same time we take care by all means possible to preserve this teaching complete and unaltered in our minds and hearts. We express every thought and use each word carefully so that we won’t shadow in any way this bright divine teaching. Nobody can do otherwise.
For the whole period of time from His first coming into the world till His second Coming, Christ gave to the Holy Apostles and to their disciples the following law:
`Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.` (Matthew 28,19). This means not to teach them in accordance with the personal way of thinking but in accordance with the commandment of Christ and this till the end of times. The He adds:
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28, 20).
The Apostles received this law and they sacrificed their life to keep it. And they answered to those who tried to stop them preaching it threatening them with death:
`Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard` (Acts 4,19-20).
This law was given by the Apostles to their disciples, it was received by these and has an eternal value in the Church of God. Due to this law the Church is the pillar and the foundation of the truth. You see how steady it is? Then who is so shameless to change something from the Christian dogma and law? How could somebody be so impudent to cut the law of Christ when this thing leads to the destruction of both parties, of the pastors and of their flocks?
The saving power of the Christian law does not depend on us at all but on the will of God on the fact that God ordained wisely the well settled path of salvation. There is no other way out of it and it won’t be possible to exist. Therefore it means that any man who teaches something different deviates from the true path and destroys himself and his followers.
The pope changed many dogmas, spoiled the sacraments, annulled the canons referring at the ecclesiastical order and at the amendment of of the morals. From that moment on everything began to follow a path against the will of God and became worse and worse.
God save us of the broad path! It is preferable to love all misfortunes ordained by God for our salvation. We should love the Christian dogmas and get our mind used with them forcing it not to think at others. We should love the Christian moral and get our will used with it forcing it to raise the light yoke of the Lord humbly and patiently. We should love all the holy services which guide, correct and sanctify us. We should accustom our heart with them urging it to leave the earthly ephemeral affairs and choose the eternal heavenly ones.
If you fully understood this do not get upset when something from this teaching seems difficult. The only thing you should seek is to make sure it is something from the Lord. After you make sure that it belongs to the Lord, receive it whole-heartedly, no matter how difficult and severe would be. Do not wish to make any change of the dogmas and the morals but stay away of this as you stay of the fire. Those who think of such things and draw after them the weak ones cannot escape of this fire. Amen.
You write : `Somebody speak continuously about our Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for salvation. He speaks enthusiastically. We enjoy listening to him, it is very appealing to us. Did you see if he is an Orthodox or of another confession? Maybe you thought that if he speaks about Christ the Saviour enthusiastically he must be one of us, being in the truth and preaching the truth. You were drawn by these and you were led into delusion. He might have been Orthodox but he fell out of it. He is a heretic!
He may preach the salvation in Christ but not as it was taught by Christ and the Holy Apostles. It is a sure fact that those who are astray think they hold the truth.
The Catholics who were the first to separate from the Church think that the Truth belongs to them exclusively. The Protestants who criticized the faith of the Catholics in many respects instead of coming back to the truth went even more astray than the Catholics. The Englishmen did not like German Protestantism and made one of themselves in accordance with their measure, their opinions and not with the eternal truths revealed by God. From Anglicanism and Protestantism appeared many ramifications and the heresies multiplied.
While in the West many different kinds of religions appeared continuously in the East the Orthodox faith, the true Church remained unchanged as a safe box containg the divine truth. There passed so many centuries and the truth was preserved unaltered and unchanged in Orthodoxy till it reached us as it was preached by the Lord and His Apostles. We find salvation in Jesus Christ with the benevolence of the Father and with the grace of the Holy Spirit. We have the duty to believe in the things God wanted to reveal to us, without any additions and cuts as they are preserved by the Holy Orthodoxy.
The faith alone is not enough for salvation. It must be accompanied by a holy life in accordance with the commandments of God: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 7, 21) And the will of God is expressed by His commandments:
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (Ioan 14, 21-23).
According to the word of God faith and deeds have an equal importance. No one f them has any primacy. In order to have a just faith and some holy deeds it is needed to have divine grace. (Ephesians 2,8) The sacraments are rivers of the divine grace that pour living water over the believers.
There is no other way, no other means for someone to receive the divine grace. Whoever preaches another way is of another faith and he is astray. Necessary for salvation are faith, a life lived in accordance with the divine commandments, the divine grace – given through the Holy Sacraments – and the clergy ordained by the Lord.
The true Christians have always felt in all times till nowadays that they lived in communion with the other believers, united with the Church. We consider the Church as our mother. And it is true the word that says for whom the Church is not a Mother God is not a Father. And if God is not his Father then who else?
The participation at the life of the Church and the accomplishment of salvation within it imply certain duties from every believer: to believe as the whole Church does and has done it since the beginning till nowadays, to search each thought he has or those that are strange to him in accordance with its criteria and not allow the slightest disagreement with the teaching of the Church as long as the Church is the pillar and the foundation of the Truth. (Timothy 3, 15)