On November 18, 2017, I became a baptized, chrismated member of the Orthodox Church.
First, disclaimers. My opinions and words are my own; I am not a spokesman for the Orthodox Church.
Second, this post is not intended to invalidate anyone’s experience in non-Orthodox churches. I attended non-Orthodox churches for more than 30 years, and had very meaningful encounters with God in them. God is sovereign and extends His mercies wherever He wills. As the Apostle Peter said: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35)
A quick backgrounder: I grew up in an agnostic home, then spent 10 years (1972-82) in a New Age-style cult before coming to Christ.
For brevity, the following comments on Christianity’s history will necessarily require some generalization and oversimplification.
In America, we basically think Christians have two choices: Catholic or Protestant. I’ve never been a Catholic, but many traditional Catholics whom I know acknowledge the severe issues their church is experiencing, especially since Vatican II in the early 1960s—most notoriously, perhaps, pedophilia, gay scandals, and even reported satanism. A friend of mine has a 90-year-old mother who describes herself as having long been “ex-Catholic.” On the day of her confirmation, she said, the priest had “hand trouble.” You can use your imagination as to what that meant.
In fairness to Catholics, I believe their church has been the victim of infiltration, not inherent evil. As just one example, Bella Dodd, a former high-ranking official in the U.S. Communist Party, stated more than 60 years ago:
In the late 1920s and 1930s, directives were sent from Moscow to all Communist Party organizations. In order to destroy the Roman Catholic Church from within, party members were to be planted in seminaries and within diocesan organizations. . . . In the 1930s, we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within. The idea was for these men to be ordained, and then climb the ladder of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops. Right now the Communist infiltrators are in the highest places in the Church where they are working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. You will not recognize the Catholic Church.1
I’d guess my friend’s 90-year-old mother very possibly ran into one of those infiltrators.
On the other side of the West’s Christian aisle, there are also two basic divisions within the Protestant church: Modernism and Fundamentalism. In America, this rift erupted during the early 20th century. Modernism (also tagged “Higher Criticism”) denied all the faith’s fundamentals: the authority of the Bible, the reality of miracles (including the Virgin Birth and Resurrection), the Second Coming, and—in cases—even the historical existence of Jesus Christ. It was funded and carefully guided by the Rockefellers and their agencies. I have written an extensive post on it.
The Fundamentalists, on the other hand, asserted their belief in the Bible and in the historicity of Christ. It was churches of this type which I attended for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, the Fundamentalist churches and seminaries were themselves largely hijacked and controlled by the Rothschild/Zionist interests, especially through publication and mass distribution of the Scofield Reference Bible. I have also written an extensive post on this movement’s history. One church I attended became so Zionized that, on one occasion, it celebrated the feast of Purim, passing out noise-makers to the congregation and instructing us to mimic being members of a synagogue.
After over 30 years a Christian, I examined the available options—a degraded Vatican, unbelieving Modernism, and Zionized Fundamentalism—and discovered to my joy the “elephant in the room”; the form of Christianity the West has long forgotten: Eastern Orthodoxy.
Here is a little more history, which (again necessarily) will be informal and oversimplified for brevity.
For the first 1,000 years after the Resurrection, there was essentially one Christian Church. Nobody asked your denomination. There were some disagreements and schisms, but major doctrinal issues and heresies were resolved by Ecumenical Councils, of which seven were convened over the centuries. These were attended by the Patriarchs of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, as well as bishops from throughout most, or much, of Christendom. The Patriarch of Rome was traditionally accorded the highest seat of honor, as “the first among equals.” His position could be compared to the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: foremost in rank, but not an exclusive decision-maker holding the right to nullify the votes of the others.
However, in 1054, the church split. This came after the Patriarch of Rome (the Pope) declared himself to hold authority over the entire church, and also sought to change the ancient Nicene Creed (the “Filioque controversy,” which I will not elaborate on here).
Christianity became broadly divided in two: the Eastern (Orthodox) Church, centered in Constantinople, and the Western (Catholic) Church, centered in Rome. From thereon, Europe’s only exposure to Christianity was through the Vatican; the Eastern Church was virtually forgotten about in the West.
After about another 500 years came the Catholic-Protestant split. However legitimate Martin Luther’s grievances may have been, there is no denying that, for the long haul, the ultimate outcome was to splinter Western Christianity into hundreds of pieces. Denominations kept spinning off from one another over doctrinal disagreements. Henry VIII even started the Church of England because the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce. The process of continuous fragmentation had to be pleasing to Satan, for whom “divide and conquer” has long been a signature strategy. Today, after so many churches have been founded upon the divergent opinions of men, Christianity is increasingly unrecognizable from its original form.
That “original form,” however, remains visible in Eastern Orthodoxy, which has not given over to corruption, nor Modernism, nor Zionism.
My first “heads up” on Orthodoxy came from a YouTuber whom I normally follow for his geopolitical insights: Brother Nathanael, a Jewish convert to the Russian Orthodox Church.
But it wasn’t until I was invited to be a guest on Global Storyline by Dean Arnold that I ran head-on into Orthodoxy. I like to get to know a host before I go on a podcast, and I happened to select an interview Dean did with Jay Dyer. Both men are converts to Orthodoxy, from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. I learned quite a bit about Orthodoxy and its place within Christianity. What perhaps impacted me most was learning that Orthodoxy continues to hold true to the original practices of the early Church. And who knew better how to run a church than the first Christians, who were taught by the Apostles, or by direct disciples of the Apostles?
Subsequently I had private discussions with Dean on Orthodoxy, and read his post Dean’s List of 21 Reasons to be an Orthodox Christian (which I recommend, as it greatly overlaps with my own reasons for conversion).
I began attending a Greek Orthodox Church and absorbing Orthodox materials.
I believe one of the major errors Protestants committed in breaking with Catholicism was this: seeing Catholic policies they despised, they settled on a path of sola scriptura (scripture alone). After all, didn’t Jesus condemn the Pharisees, saying, “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:8)?
Two points on this. First, in context, Jesus was condemning the traditions of the Pharisees. These traditions, some of which the Hebrews had adopted during their exile to Babylon, were also known as the “oral law.” Eventually they were written down as the Talmud, a blasphemous book that says, among many other things, that Jesus is boiling in excrement in hell, that his mother Mary was a whore, and that gentiles are utterly inferior beings (for a detailed analysis of the Talmud, I recommend Michael Hoffman’s Judaism’s Strange Gods.)
However, Protestants err if they look at Jesus’s condemnation of the Pharisees’ traditions, and then reason that they should therefore discard the traditions of Christianity itself.
Second. I would never doubt the seniority of Scripture over tradition. However, not everything on how to administer the Church was laid out in the Bible. Paul told the Thessalonians: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thess 2:15)
Let’s take an example: confession of sins. James 5:16 instructs us to “Confess your faults one to another.” Yet in over 30 years in evangelical churches, I never once attended a church where this occurred as a matter of practice.
Here’s the problem. Let’s say you’re a Christian married man, and you decide to confess before your Bible study that you’ve been flirting with your secretary at work. But perhaps there’s an immature Christian at this Bible study who’s a gossip. And this gossip goes to your wife and blabs the whole story. Now your confession has not healed your guilt; instead it has brought misery into your life and your wife’s.
The early church recognized this dilemma, and made confession (which it regards as a vital sacrament) an act done before a priest sworn to confidentiality. This practice continues to this day in both Catholic and Orthodox churches. (Of course, this does not mean that anyone but God has the power to forgive sins.)
However, since under “sola scriptura”—scripture only—Protestant churches cannot detect a Biblical basis for this practice, confession has simply been, for all practical purposes, abandoned. “After all, confessing sins to a priest is just a tradition.”
But me, I want to confess my sins. For one thing, one is far less likely to commit a sin if he/she knows it will later be confessed.
By divorcing themselves from tradition, Protestants amputated 1,500 years of church history and the wisdom that went with it. During my years in evangelical churches, I met many people who had read the Left Behind series and countless other contemporary Christian books, but only encountered a handful of people familiar with the works of the early Church Fathers. Small wonder, then, that there are such diverse types of worship services.
A review of the oldest church writings, such as the epistles of St. Ignatius (bishop of Antioch) and The Didache, make it clear that the original church services were—contrary to modern Protestant doctrine—liturgical and sacramental, and regarded the consecrated bread and wine of Holy Communion as literally (not symbolically) the body and blood of Christ. Church administration was also clearly laid out, e.g., the ordaining of bishops and priests.
Who knew better how to worship? The original church, as taught by the Apostles, or denominational spinoffs of spinoffs, 1,500 to 2,000 years later?
So what happened to the Eastern Orthodox Church after its split with Rome? Again, a highly condensed account.
The Eastern Church continued to grow, most significantly with the conversion of all Russia to Christianity under Vladimir the Great in 988 AD.
Constantinople (now Istanbul) remained the heart of Orthodoxy until 1453, when it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. From this time forward, Russia became, for practical purposes, Orthodoxy’s center. Moscow was even called “the Third Rome.”
This disposition came to a crashing halt with the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. During the early years of the revolution, Lenin and Trotsky oversaw the destruction of over 60,000 churches2 and murder of over 300,000 priests.3 Although this period—the worst slaughter of Christians in history—is often acknowledged by conservative Western scholars, few emphasize that these were Orthodox Christians.
As many of my blog’s readers know, I often analyze geopolitical events from a spiritual perspective. When it comes to the Bolshevik Revolution, I believe it fair to say the Devil knew who his worst enemy was. (In saying this, I do not mean to in any way downplay the persecution of non-Orthodox Christians through the centuries.)
I believe it is probably not coincidental that while Bolsheviks were massacring the Russian Orthodox Church, simultaneously the Greek Orthodox Church was severely persecuted during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919 to 1922. The war originated after the Paris Peace Conference, in its usual meddlesome way, tried to chop up the defeated Ottoman Empire, awarding parts of it to Greece. Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered during the Greek Genocide, and about 1,500,000 Orthodox Christians were expelled from Turkey. This might be an appropriate time to also mention that the victims of the Ukrainian genocide (Holodomor) and Armenian genocide were also Orthodox Christians (Armenians being Oriental Orthodox). And fast-forwarding to today, are not the spectacular resurgence of Orthodoxy in Russia, along with the long-standing presence of Orthodoxy in Syria, factors in the Zionist West’s hostile foreign policy toward these two nations?
If there was a silver lining in the horrific genocides of Orthodox Christians, it may have been the movement of Orthodoxy into America via immigration. Thanks to that diaspora, I was able to discover Orthodoxy myself.
So what else drew me to Orthodoxy?
• Liturgical services, which some Protestants view as boringly redundant, have a very positive flip side. The services maintain the stability of authentic worship; they do not stray into the personal preferences of a pastor or elder board. The sermon is only a small part of an Orthodox service; by contrast, many evangelical churches center on the sermon; as a result, one may often see the pastor’s personality and opinions more than Christ.
• I was also delighted to discover that the Orthodox Church uses the much-neglected Septuagint version of the Old Testament. The Septuagint is what Jesus and the Apostles quoted. But most churches today abandon it for the Masoretic text, which was compiled by rabbinic scholars around 1,000 years after Christ. This is why, in so many modern Bibles, when Jesus and the Apostles quote a verse from the Old Testament, and you flip to that verse, the wording is different. My view: If the Septuagint was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.
• I look forward to partaking in the vital sacrament of communion in the way that was taught from antiquity.
• Another appeal of Orthodoxy is the disciplined lifestyle that accompanies it: not only recurring times of fasting, but the continuous pursuit of godliness—what Christ called “the narrow gate.” In listening to Brother Nathanael, I realized how certain Western doctrines have watered down what the first Christians called “the Way” (Acts 9:2). Calvin emphasized predestination, Luther emphasized “saved by faith alone,” and today we often hear “Once saved, always saved.”
Don’t misunderstand me. One can certainly find Scripture verses to support these precepts. The problem is that overly focusing on any one of them can tempt some into spiritual laziness. i.e.:
“My fate is predestined, so it doesn’t matter how I live.”
“I’m saved by faith alone, so it doesn’t matter how I live.”
“Once saved, always saved, so it doesn’t matter how I live.”
The devil knows better. If our behavior was irrelevant to the fate of our souls as Christians, Satan wouldn’t bother trying to tempt us. As James said:
Likewise faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, someone will say, “You have faith; and I have works.” Show me your faith by your works, and by my works, I will show you my faith. You believe that God is one! You do well! The demons also believe, and they shudder. (James 2:17-19) (EOB)
• And finally, I rejoice to have come home to the historic Christian Church. Those who follow my work know that I have largely evolved into a traditionalist, even viewing monarchy, as a form of government, with guarded approval. Although it is OK to rebel against authority when that authority is Luciferian, in the vast majority of cases, a spirit of rebellion—whether adolescent, political, or theological—is not consistent with God’s nature, and has brought the world myriad troubles.
I am not alone in this transition. Increasing numbers of Western Christians have discovered Orthodoxy, including Hank Hanegraff, long celebrated as “the Bible Answer Man.” (This podcast interview with Hank may be helpful.)
While readers are free to contact me about this post, I request that I not be sent general questions about Orthodoxy, such as “Don’t the Orthodox worship icons?” and “Don’t the Orthodox believe they’re saved by works instead of God’s grace?” (No, No.) The best place to find answers to FAQs like these is in an introductory book on Orthodoxy, such as Introducing the Orthodox Church by Anthony Coniaris, or Welcome to the Orthodox Church by Frederica Mathewes-Green. I also suggest the video series Discovering Orthodox Christianity.
Thanks for reading, and may God bless.
November 29, 2017 update. I discussed my journey into Orthodoxy in an interview with Dean Arnold on Global Storyline. The podcast is long, but may interest some who would like greater elaboration of this post’s details.
1. “The Church of Darkness: Vatican II Church; Communists Secretly Infiltrated Roman Catholic Church,” April 9, 2015, http://romancatholicfaith.weebly.com/blog/-the-church-of-darkness-vatican-ii-church.
2 Juri Lina, Under the Sign of the Scorpion (2002: Referent Publishing), 237.
3. Ibid., 106.