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Against (crypto-Protestant) “Orthodox” fundamentalism

Creationism and Holy Orthodoxy: fundamentalism is not enough

by C.J.S. Hayward

There have been many saints that although they lived a distinguished life of sincere piety, humility, and love for God and their fellow man, this in and of itself does not make them authorities on all matters.  Like, for example, Aerial Toll Houses, or as in this case, a six 24-hour day creation.

Here, Hayward reflects on the fundamentalist phenomenon of the Orthodox Christian Church and concludes that Protestant Fundamentalism should not be imported into Holy Orthodoxy.  The article provides a nice insight into his book The Seraphinians: “Blessed Seraphim Rose” and His Axe-Wielding Western Converts, which addresses the “Elder Ephraim” brand of Orthodox Fundamentalism.  As Hayward mentions, “If you are Orthodox and have been uncomfortable or concerned with the “Blessed Seraphim Rose and Elder Ephraim” crowd, and especially if you want to put a finger on why but can’t pin it down, this book is very much written just for you.”  We endorse this book. But for now, here is the article below:

 

Creation and Holy Orthodoxy: Fundamentalism Is Not Enough

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The Heresey, Falsehood, & Lie of Aerial Toll Houses

The tollhouses. Fresco in the Monastery of St. John of Rila, Bulgaria.

Brothers & Sisters,

I wrote in another area of the esteemed “Orthodox Christian Laity” website, http://ocl.org in a section entitled “Tradition Without Fundamentalism“, concerning the deleterious effects that the “Ephraimite” style of Monasteries are having upon the cross-jurisdictional parish communities in the United States. In the section “Resolutions Relating to Monasteries Adopted by the OCL”  I spoke to one item in particular, the Aerial Toll House heresy, that the Ephraimite Monasteries are actively promoting. They even just published a 1000 page book teaching this heresy. I am reprinting this here on We Are Orthodox.

In a nutshell, the false teaching alleges that upon death, the soul undergoes a journey through a number of “Toll Houses” where the demons of Hell examine particular sins of the person at each toll house. If the person can successfully give an account , then he/she can pass through and go to the next Toll House. If a person can pass through each Toll House, THEN they can proceed to Paradise. Ephraimites teach that “Blind obedience” to your priest, abbot, spiritual father, will give you a free pass through these Toll-houses. One can easily imagine how that could be exploited by self-aggrandizing ilks of base character.

This falsehood, indeed this heresy, this lie, completely insults Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for us. This falsehood, this heresy, this lie, puts the demons as our judge, and not the Lord. This falsehood, this heresy, this lie, dismisses the incredible phenomenon known as “grace”. Each liturgy we pray for a good account before the awesome judgment seat of Christ – not the demons. Christ is our judge. And when we all face Him (indeed an intense event) our only defense, our only hope, is being released on a technicality – for what excuse can we give for sinning? Adam tried blaming Eve as his excuse. Didn’t work for him. It won’t work for us. Our only hope then is the technicality known as Divine Grace, through which (as scripture clearly states) we are saved. Indeed, as Orthodox Christians, this should not be news to us. There is no teaching of Aerial Toll Houses in Scripture, in Canons, in the Funeral Service, etcetera.

The proponents of this heresy clearly show their ego by:
1. Distorting Scripture to suggest that this teaching is there.
2. Using vague and ambiguous statements from certain saints to suggest “the Fathers and Saints teach this”

In some sense, they use this as a type of secret knowledge of what awaits us. This is a modern-day form of the Gnostic heresy.

I could go on. But let me only highlight on last item. The Monastery in Florence, AZ just published a book that is over 1000 pages long, alleging that Aerial Toll Houses are true and part of Orthodox beliefs. I don’t think doctoral dissertations are that long. To make matters worse, there are Orthodox Hierarchs that have foolishly given their endorsement of the book – as printed therein. This does not represent the dogma of the Orthodox Christian Church.

Let me predict something: The Protestant Church leadership (or some other Christian denomination) will get a hold of that book, and there will begin a campaign alleging that Orthodox Christians believe salvation is in the hands of demons. If you think people have left our Church now – “you aint seen nuthin’ yet!” There will be a profound exodus of people that is beyond what is already happening. Even those who think that this is merely a metaphor, or “theologoumenon” should re-evaluate and not give such credit to this profound insult and distortion. This heresy should not be given a foolish “de facto” endorsement either.

Here is a scholarly document refuting this teaching:https://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/dumbarton-oaks-papers/dop55/dp55ch06.pdf

The Dumbarton Oaks Papers are held in very high esteem amongst scholarly circles. While profane people like me point to simple and obvious truths, this scholarly approach by Dr. Nicholas Constas (now known as the Priest-Monk Maximos from Mount Athos) examines every minutia of detail and presents his conclusion that this is a false teaching.

I honor and respect the Parish Community as a place and source of holiness. I also honor and respect the same in unadulterated and healthy Monasticism (as is the case with the deeply respected Priest-Monk Maximos, and others). That is why I will speak out on anything that is of concern. I believe it is my responsibility as a human to speak the truth. Otherwise I would feel guilty of passively allowing a falsehood to continue. Please join me in addressing this. Do not be afraid to speak the Truth, even when it is uncomfortable. I read somewhere that: “Truth plus one person equals the majority”. That may take time, but that is the side I choose to be on. Ultimately the masses will discover that. The Lord knows. May He send us the Grace we need to overcome this evil challenge as we have historically overcome other ones. I believe the Lord does that through people like you and me.

Respectfully,
Steve Johnson

Contra-Tollhouses: The Orthodox Funeral Service

Contra-Tollhouses: The Orthodox Funeral Service

by the Very Reverend Fr. Steven C. Salaris, M.Div., Ph.D.

 

Note from the Editors:

This is another article exposing the heresy we know as Aerial Tollhouses.  In his first article against Tollhouses, Fr. Salaris used the hymns and scriptures from the Feastday of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary to refute the teachings of the Tollhouse Heresy.  In this paper, Fr. Salaris uses the Orthodox Funeral Service itself to expose the Tollhouse teaching as heretical. If this teaching were to be found anywhere, it would be overtly evident in the Funeral Service – but it is void.

As mentioned before, absolutely no confusion about this existed before these (and other) heretical teachings seeped into North American Orthodox beliefs as a result of revisionist teachings from the Ephraimite movement. We now have Priests telling our Laity, at funerals, that we must pray for departed souls to “successfully” pass through the Arial Tollhouses. We agree with Fr. Steven when he writes: “As do all tollhouse teachings, it makes a blasphemous mockery of Christ’s salvific death and resurrection”.

Fr. Salaris attended DePauw University in Indiana and graduated in 1987 with a B.A. in Biology. In 1991, he received a Ph.D. in mammalian physiology from the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology at Purdue University. After graduate school, he transferred to St. Louis, Missouri to take a position as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Cardiology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1993, he began teaching biology courses at various campuses in the St. Louis area. That same year, he married at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis, MO to his present wife. In 1995, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he taught biology at St. Joseph’s University. In 1997, as a result of his personal journey, that began several years earlier, he pursued and was granted a Master of Divinity degree at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Christian Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY.

To read this article, please click here (Contra-Tollhouses: The Orthodox Funeral Service).

To see the first article on this (Contra-Tollhouses: The Dormition of the Theotokos), please click here.

 

 

 

Orthodox Revolutionaries & Fundamentalists

New article by Fr. John Winfrey. 

When reading the current affairs of the Church it is terribly easy to become discouraged and disillusioned. This can be caused equally by those who are revolutionaries trying to change the  Faith and morals of the Church as well as by those who insist on saving the Church from its modern life by trying to establish their understanding of the “pure” Church of whatever age upon us now. Additionally, one can be lead to despair by the Church’s entrenched attachment to dysfunctional bureaucratic method even when it’s simply not practical or even appropriate to a new people, whose home is a new place with a different culture, living in a radically different time. “Byzantinism” cannot remain if we truly wish for Orthodoxy to grow in this new place and amongst these people who have no cultural ties to the Byzantine mind.

Click to read full article.

Contra-Tollhouses: An Orthodox Refutation of this Heresy

Contra-Tollhouses: The Dormition of the Theotokos

by the Very Reverend Fr. Steven C. Salaris, M.Div., Ph.D.

Note from the Editors:

This is an article exposing the heresy we know as Aerial Tollhouses.  It is his first article against Tollhouses and Fr. Salaris uses the hymns and scriptures from the Feastday of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary to refute the teachings of the Tollhouse Heresy.  In his second paper, Fr. Salaris uses the Orthodox Funeral Service itself to expose the Tollhouse teaching as heretical. If this teaching were to be found anywhere, it would be overtly evident in the Funeral Service – but it is void.

As mentioned before, absolutely no confusion about this existed before these (and other) heretical teachings seeped into North American Orthodox beliefs as a result of revisionist teachings from the Ephraimite movement. We now have Priests telling our Laity, at funerals, that we must pray for departed souls to “successfully” pass through the Arial Tollhouses. We agree with Fr. Steven when he writes: “As do all tollhouse teachings, it makes a blasphemous mockery of Christ’s salvific death and resurrection”.

Fr. Salaris attended DePauw University in Indiana and graduated in 1987 with a B.A. in Biology. In 1991, he received a Ph.D. in mammalian physiology from the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology at Purdue University. After graduate school, he transferred to St. Louis, Missouri to take a position as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Cardiology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1993, he began teaching biology courses at various campuses in the St. Louis area. That same year, he married at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis, MO to his present wife. In 1995, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he taught biology at St. Joseph’s University. In 1997, as a result of his personal journey, that began several years earlier, he pursued and was granted a Master of Divinity degree at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Christian Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY.

To read this article, please click here (Contra-Tollhouses: The Orthodox Funeral Service).

To see the first article on this (Contra-Tollhouses: The Dormition of the Theotokos), please click here.

 

 

MYSTAGOGY reports on “The Plethora of ‘Elders’ and the ‘Piety’ of the Naive”

“It is difficult for these self-proclaimed ‘elders’ to recognize their delusion and be humble.”
– an excerpt from this article

The highly acclaimed Orthodox Christian website MYSTAGOGY printed an article on August 12, 2013 from Protopresbyter Fr. Dionysios Tatsis entitled “The Plethora of Elders and the Piety of the Naive”.  It reflects on how the unsuspecting, the naive and the innocent, are being misled by being trapped in a dangerous cult of personality. He writes “..this is a sickened piety which must be combated against….” Click here to read.

It must be highlighted that the author (now known as Bishop Gregory Tatsis) is the leading Hierarch of the Carpatho-Russian Church under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Heroes of Truth

Who has the courage and conviction to speak up?  We have such Heroes in our Church today. In spite of the difficulties that heralding Truth might cause, Truth is the only thing that can help our Church, and help us as individuals as well.  Truth gives us our bearings and protects us from delusions and fantasies.

 

Click Here to read about these modern day Church Heroes.

Elder Ephraim’s Controversial Book – Please Read This Review

Elder Ephraim’s book “A Call From The Holy Mountain” was published in 1991 by Sarov Press (Blanco, TX).  Since then it has been taken off the market reportedly because of the remarkably controversial teachings that are documented in this text.  We have obtained a copy and have written a report identifying what these items are. Click here to see for yourself. In a word: shocking.

(Please click above paragraph to view article.  Don’t forget to click “Like” on the Facebook link below. Thank you.)

A Dialogue with Ephraim Followers

Click here to read this insightful online dialogue with 2 followers of Ephraim, and 2 who do not.

Click here to read this insightful online dialogue with 2 followers of Ephraim, and 2 who do not. This exchange gives good insights as to the methodologies of arguing from followers of Ephraim. Routine emotion is one typical response. Labeling and dismissiveness is another. Both of which have a concluding statement of “please forgive me” as if to make it more palpable. We do believe that these people are genuinely good. But they have had their good and naive nature exploited by the fact that they had a good experience at the Monastery. The are not all aware of all the facts. But for some reason, they do not wish to even consider that it is okay to investigate questions that are raised by people throughout the United States and Canada. Their emotions unfortunately seem to compromise their objectivity. Reading this dialogue takes the “heat of the moment” emotion out of the equation and leaves the reader a clearer understanding of the issues.

Athonite Monasticism: Mainstream vs. Ephraimite Brand Fundamentalism

Comparison of Mainstream versus Ephriamite Fundamentalist style of Athonite Monasticism –

Click here to read this comparison of Mainstream Athonite Monasticism as compared to the Ephraim Fundamentalist brand. Although Ephraimite Monasteries seem to bill themselves as truly representing all Monasteries of Mt. Athos, it is clearly not the case. This article will clearly lay out the differences and bring the reader up to speed on this Ephraimite Fundamentalist phenomenon.