By Jackie Morfesis

Once again, the WOKE crowd at Public Orthodoxy of Fordham University care more about if we are on the wrong side of history than the right side of God as per the article
“The Orthodox Church Is on the Wrong Side of History” by Rev. John Chryssavgis, with the subtitle: “The Church, a deacon of the Orthodox Church writes, has hit rock bottom”. This is Public Orthodoxy’s running thesis statement. Only the issue is that the faith walk is rarely if ever on the right side of the secular world. To be clear, I am non-violent, against war, and care and stand for the suffering of all. However, Rev. John Chryssavgis’ article is much more than an anti-war statement, it comes at a critical juncture as a statement of Anti-Orthodoxy.

Allow me to explain. Again and again, Public Orthodoxy, an initiative of their Orthodoxy Christian Studies Center, under the leadership of Nathaniel Wood, carefully chooses the voices they will allow on their platform for one very important reason, they must align with their overriding political agenda. And their overriding political agenda is of the world. We know that as Christians on the faith walk, we are and never will be “of the world”. “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).

Public Orthodoxy stands for those who were and are affected by police brutality, they stand for social justice issues, and rightly so, but not one article was allowed, to take the position and stand as well for all the innocents who were assaulted, injured, even murdered in the false name of social justice. Not one article to righteously stand against all the damage and destruction that befell our cities, including arson, looting, and vandalism, indeed terror, in the false name of social justice. Righteousness and true justice are the collateral damage of political correctness.

Here is the rub: though we like to chant along to “There is no peace without justice.” The truth is “there is no justice without peace”. We do not have the right to attack innocents in the false name of justice. We all know very well that the day will never come when there will be “peace on earth” as long as man holds “darkness in his heart.” This is a much deeper issue than political pandering – this is an issue of soul.

We do not seek vengeance. “For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (Hebrews 10:30). We do not make anyone’s right to live in peace an afterthought nor a condition for our crusade for “justice”. We do not threaten others and attack their livelihoods, and their way of life because we may have suffered. The home I was living in, a family home, was poured with gasoline while we were sleeping, then burned to the ground. I was barefoot and made homeless watching it burn to the ground after we barely escaped by dropping from a balcony to the bushes below. Did I now have the right to burn someone else’s home to the ground in rage and vengeance? No. I will not repay evil with evil.

My most beloved cousin was murdered after visiting my parents’ home. A graduate of M.I.T., a brilliant scholar who spoke at his graduation. Did I now have the right to murder for justice in his name? No. Again, we do not repay evil with evil.

The Rev. John Chryssavgis is concerned about the moral base of Orthodoxy and our leaders? Where are the articles criticizing His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros for saying  that Our Holy Theotokos had a “choice” to bear the Christ child? I see articles in Public Orthodoxy condemning the war in Ukraine, but I do not remember articles condemning violence against all innocents in our own nation. Did it not align with the right political agenda? Or the agenda of Public Orthodoxy?

This paragraph in his article says it all: “But the focus of my article is the state of the Orthodox Church, which desperately needs addressing. Perhaps the Orthodox Church needs to hit — or we need to admit it has already hit — rock bottom. Perhaps we should confess that our church consistently rejects freedom and democracy. Perhaps we should appreciate what we know in our hearts but rarely confess with our lips: that once again we are hopelessly and shamelessly on the wrong side of history. Then, and only then, will we be able to take the first — initially clumsy and cautious — steps toward reconciliation with our church and with our world”.

The day we are more invested in upholding democratic values and less concerned about upholding Christian values – is the day that we have indeed hit “rock bottom”. We aren’t here to be “reconciled to the world” but “reconciled to God.” Please, do not misunderstand me. Again, I am against war. I am against the suffering of innocents. Yet, our values are not rooted in politics. Nor in worldly freedoms. As true Orthodox Christians, they are rooted and anchored in the freedom that only comes from the Lord. Freedom from sin. Freedom from the chains that bind us. Freedom from the false love of the world and all its temptations and luxuries. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17). Freedom from needing to join the cacophony of voices who shout for justice but a very selective justice.

I invite Public Orthodoxy of Fordham University to have the bold faith to speak and stand for the vulnerable, the voiceless, and those who our Lord and our God created. But that would not be in alignment with a culture that consistently rejects true “freedom and democracy.” No, Rev. John Chryssavgis, it is not the church that consistently rejects freedom and democracy, it is the world. In fact, the church has stood for millennia to protect the defenseless. Yet, in a world where we decide who is deemed defenseless and who deserves protection, the Early Church is seen as the true threat. The Early Church is the Church we consistently attack as our clerical leaders consistently miss the mark. More importantly, it is our very Lord and Savior who we attack.

On this this point – I will agree – our leaders can and must do better. But not in the way that Rev. John Chryssavigis and the guard at Public Orthodoxy believes. We must do better and truly be on the “right side of history” by truly following the faith walk, not the walk we create with our soaring intellect, but the walk that Jesus put on our hearts and on our lips, and in our actions. We must have mercy for all. We must seek forgiveness, redemption, and salvation for all instead of bowing, acquiescing, and indeed becoming worse than lukewarm, which our God hates, becoming nothing more than puppets for political causes.

Our Lord did not serve His ministry on this earth appeasing political powers. Nor in caring for the “world” or how He would be seen by the “world”. Neither should we. He spent His time preaching God’s Holy Word and planting seeds of the Kingdom. This is what we are all mandated to do as a Child of God, Disciple of Christ, and Ambassador in the Kingdom.

So, before we keep printing again and again, the tired and torn “The Church is on the Wrong Side of History”, let’s stop to truly meditate on the meaning of those words. Is it the Church that is on the wrong side of history? Or have we completely forgotten where we must stand as Christians to be on the “Right Side of God”? Do we have the fierce courage to speak to how we can truly be on the “Right Side of God”, not just when it suits our agenda? God help us all.

I often think of the early Christians and disciples of Christ. They would give and indeed gave their lives to the Lord, to do His work on this earth. Yet, in many of our churches today, we paint them as no more than relics of the past, instead of taking their lives to our hearts and living as they would by their example. This is how we honor the Lord. This is how we honor our inheritance as disciples of Christ. In fact, many Orthodox do not even know our true identity. We live in fear instead of with courage. We have so much invested in the world that we are blinded to the promise of our place and peace in eternity. We aren’t here to be praised or lauded by the world. We are here to in many times be condemned by the world and carry our cross. Howevver, it is not the cross of salvation that tortures us (as is often misunderstood), which is our freedom, but the cross of the world, and all the ways we are attacked by the world, that we carry because we follow the Lord.

God help every clergy member who politicizes their mercy. God help those entrusted within our educational institutions and those given media platforms such as Public Orthodoxy to use it as it was intended, as a public forum instead of a political platform. To use it to bring God the glory instead of man and his causes and personal agenda. To use it instead to open hearts to truly love God and all His children. To use it to point us back to God. Instead of continually veering from the single perfect point (amartia). Instead of publishing articles that politicize and secularize our faith – and laud the ways of the “world”, let’s have the undying faith and courage to speak God’s Word – publish God’s Word, and most importantly, encourage others to live God’s Word.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Met. Nathaniel of Chicago seems to have “stepped in it again” with a recent homily and with his tonsuring of female readers. GOARCH take one step closer to the precipice.

  2. I think its pretty clear that with the Archdiocese losing millions with the 9/11 church rebuild, they got themselves in a financial hole….enter one of the worst clerics I have ever seen in this Elpidophoros and he allied himself with shysters, mostly Jews of New York to borrow money off and now these people own Elpidophoros the Archdiocese and their so called scholars.

  3. Nathaniel of Chicago needs checkup in his mental health ~
    I remember visiting a Bible class he did on west side of Manhattan filling in after death of Fr. Jim,
    it was just terrible ~ he didn’t seem to know anything nor how to talk to a small group of people!

    Since then Nathaniel has gotten worse since he fell in the Lefty rabbit hole.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this article.

    I just learned about Public Orthodoxy Here is a quote by Fr. John Whiteford:

    “If you look over the archives of Public Orthodoxy, you will see that it has produced a steady stream of articles that defy almost every aspect of Orthodox Christian morality, and as a matter of fact they regularly argue that while dogmatic issues (which they define as being limited to strictly theological matters) are beyond debate, moral issues are not dogmatic, and therefore up for revision. This is a completely novel approach, and one that is heretical and contrary to the clear Tradition of the Church.”

  5. I commend Fr Chrysalis for acknowledging the demise of world wide Orthodoxy. However, I believe he misses the real cause. As John states in Revelation 2:14, “you have lost your first love”. Orthodoxy, and in particular American Orthodoxy, has its love for Jesus. The cure for the demise of the church is repentance – nothing else. We must turn to back to Him. While responding to issues confronting the church, Jesus must be always come first.

  6. Dear to Christ, Jackie,

    CHRIST IS RISEN!

    I give thanks to God when laypeople courageously stand up to defend the true Patristic Fronema of our Holy Orthodox Faith. You, unfortunately, are very correct in your succinct description of “Public Orthodoxy” as a “political platform.” You also hinted at the main problem with those who run – and have the mindset of – Public Orthodoxy: they are more head-centered than heart-centered. Many of those who refer to themselves as “Orthodox theologians” – because of their advanced theological degrees, often from non-Orthodox colleges and/or seminaries – have adopted the intellectual/scholastic approach to theology. Such a person will never experience the True Faith where it is meant to be experienced: within the heart — the heart that is – through God’s Grace, and the person’s daily struggle to incarnate the ascetical/mystical life of our Faith – being daily cleansed, made whole and becoming a living ikon of repentance and obedience. Such a person’s daily life BECOMES a sermon — an incarnation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It was my great blessing to have such a person as my spiritual father for nearly 40 years: the saintly Gerona Ephraim of Arizona, of blessed memory. May our Lord Jesus, through the holy intercessions of my Geronta Ephraim, take us away from the western, scholastic approach of seeking to understand and explain God with our fallen reasoning, and bless us with tears of repentance and a burning desire to experience God within our hearts!

    • Dear Father Demetrios:
      Christos Anesti!
      Thank you for your beautiful, kind, supportive, and spirit-filled words. I pray that as Orthodox Christians, we move our faith from our “heads to our hearts” every day.
      Jackie

  7. Fr. Demetrios Carellas,

    CHRIST IS RISEN!

    Thank God we still have wonderful priests like you – gems- to defend our faith which is under attack – and – from within!
    Theology degrees mean diddly squat nothing & the proof is in the superlative monastics like Porphyrios, Paisios, Iakavos – all of them canonized Saints.
    None of them had academic degrees —
    yet all of them could run circles & outdo any PhD scholars!

  8. Jackie and Fr. Demetrios~
    Amen! You both hit the nail on the coffin. The problem with “Public Orthodoxy” IS the scholastic theological teachings and methodology of MAN. Theology itself is the problem where the “intellectual”, in a fallen secular world is praised, valued and given greater financial “reward” as a result than following God’s seemingly random, incomprehensible and unfathomable will. How contrary to God’s teachings is this?

    When the ritualistic traditions, culture, theology, ethos, public impression, politics and religious persona to the world (St. Nicholas Shrine) become more “sacred” and important than the anointing of God to lead or minister as His disciples, then man’s will has usurped and superseded God’s will and order.

    I care not if the Priest giving the sermon or communion has a number of worthless paper degrees declaring his “proficiencies” to do this or that. I do care however, if a Pastor or Priest has God’s will and the anointing in teaching the Gospel, bringing the unchurched, the fallen, the drug addicted, the medically infirm and the mentally struggling to experience Christ’s salvation and unmerited grace and love. Beware of false prophets! If one can not tell the difference, one only need to attend some of the Christian churches outside of the Orthodox religion to see, hear and understand the differences. Mathew 22:14 Many are called, but few are chosen.

    Mathew 7:13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it…Mathew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many will be called, but few are chosen.

    While having a basis of understanding and teaching is always good, it doesn’t “qualify” or truly equip one to lead as does the one who is anointed and follows God’s path rooted in faith. The difference here being is that one is secular based while the other is faith based. The problem with most “educational institutions”, is that one is subjected to the secular agendas of those who teach and run the very institutions in which they espouse “righteousness”. Fordham is no exception to this doctrine of thought and philosophy. When indoctrination or profit is the motive for religious education and not the will of God, why now would anyone expect differently?

    • Thanks Margaret, yes worthless paper degrees… I’ll take the illumined Monks & Nuns & even married Saints over the seminary nerds like the Fordhamites and
      Elpi .
      They’ve all gone too politico;
      bored with anything ascetically demanding like Orthodoxy.

  9. “All that we have said about the great Christian Mysteries is not an opinion of our own (if it were an opinion of our own it would be worth nothing), but it is the repeated experience of the Apostles in the ancient days and of the saints up to our own days. For the Church of God lives not on opinion, but on the experience of the saints, as in the beginning, so in our days. The opinions of intellectual persons may be wonderfully clever and yet be false, whereas the experience of the saints is always true. It is God the Lord who is true to Himself in his saints.”
    St Nikolai Velimirovic

  10. «Επιδημία μου είναι να αποθανών για την πίστη και την αγάπη του Χρήστου!»
    Ο Άγιος Νεομάρτυς Αργύριος

    Father Demetrios, thank you for reminding us how we continuously have to experience our Lord within our hearts every minute of the day. I was also very fortunate to know Elder Ephraim, who knew about me even before I opened my mouth. Truly, we must strive to let go of the rationalistic, scholastic approach to our faith, and remember why we even breath, or why our heart beats, in the first place. Through God’s Grace and our honorable participation in our faith, and holy sacraments, we can be on the pathway to righteousness… Everything else that deters us from our salvation, is meaningless.

    Jackie, well done!

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