The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."

blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham


jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007


17 June 2012

Misc. Notes on Charismatics

who call themselves Orthodox

√ best book on the subject: Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, by Fr. Seraphim Rose.  See book review on this blog which has links to sample chapters.

√ To be spared confusion, let Fr. Seraphim Rose be your guide.  Fr. Seraphim was a disciple of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.  He was not simply an intelligent zealous monk, he is one of St. John's miracles.  It was through St. John's prayers and guidance that Fr. Seraphim acquired the mind of the Holy Fathers to whom he repeatedly points in his publications.   Like St. John, Fr. Seraphim came to be loved all over the world.

Orthodox define "prophecy" as the word of God.  It can be past, present or future.  Moses, for example, prophesied of the past – telling us of the beginning of creation.

Prophets do not arise outside the Church.  God does not call His prophets out of the general population.  The Old Testament Prophets were not merely "believers" in the God of Abraham, but were also members in and of the Jewish Temple.

√ Prophets who were born Gentiles became members of the Church before they became prophets.  

√ Just as the Old Testament prophets were within the boundaries of the Jewish Temple, New Testament prophets arise only from within the boundaries of the New Testament Church.  

√ Misunderstanding about charismatic gifts is rooted in an inability to discern the boundaries of the Church.  

When the charismatic delusion is found in Orthodox.  Heterodox who believe they are prophets –when this is not just an overactive imagination or wishful thinking– can actually be some kind of [false] prophet, such as the charismatics who "get words" or psychics with crystal balls, tarot cards, or a "familiar spirit".  They confess that their "gift" was received outside the Orthodox Church and, in fact, insist the Church has nothing to do with it. 

The charismatic is under demonic deception.  A demon pretends to be the "holy spirit", or a type of "spirit guide", or "angel", or even the person's own "mental powers".

√ Sometimes an Orthodox person can come to believe he is a prophet.  The deceived one  believes he was given a gift from God, within the Church, usually as a reward for his ascetic labors and prolonged prayers.  In Orthodoxy this delusion is called "prelest" or "plani," and the root cause is pride, as described in The Ladder, by St. John Climacus.  But this is a separate case from the unbaptized charismatic or psychic. 

We must come into the Church with nothing.  A Baptismal candidate who believes he has charismatic gifts from God, or psychic abilities, should not be baptized into the Church.  This is partly because it is easier to cure this malady before baptism rather than after.  The Baptismal candidate needs to do a "self-emptying" and a willful submitting, – similar to Christ, our baptism is an image of His crucifixion and resurrection.  If the baptismal candidate is holding something back, such as a secret "friendship with the holy spirit", then he cheats himself out of a complete conversion.  When the Church tells him that his "friendship with the holy spirit" is demonic, he does not believe the Church.  How can he be healed if he can not believe the Church?   How can he submit himself to a Church he does not completely trust?

√ A reason that charismatics should not be baptized is that then they add illusion to delusion.  They add the illusion that they are Orthodox to the delusion that they are prophets.  But their Orthodoxy is not Orthodox.  And their prophecy is from demons like in Acts 16:16

√ What if somebody is baptized while still holding onto charismatic gifts?  Is it too late for him?  No.  But it takes more humility than most can muster.   My observation is usually either that the person leaves the Church, or he goes "underground" with his charismatic gift and keeps it hidden.  They are just so sure they are right, and separating fact from fiction is too confusing for them – it is a terrible sin to doubt the Holy Spirit and they are sure that they have the true Holy Spirit.

Are all charismatic gifts demonic?  Yes.  Can't there even be one good charismatic incident where it is not demonic?  No.

√ Are all supernatural occurrences demonic?  We are taught, to be on the safe side, to assume so.   Let the Church judge what are lying signs and wonders and what are true miracles of God.  There was one case on record of an occurrence was outside the visible Church at first, but later it was revealed that it was truly a miracle of the Church.  This is a good study, because it shows how you how to look deeper and gain discernment.  It also shows the due caution necessary in judging where a miracle comes from.

There was good reason why back in the old days the Church forbade the younger in the Faith to teach.   The younger in the Faith do not yet have understanding which is developed after Baptism.  This is a convert pitfall that Fr. Seraphim Rose labeled: knowing better, trusting oneself.   The prescribed cure is humility. 

√ Real Orthodox prophets are not self-revealed and known only to a few pious faithful during their lifetimes.

The best way to learn about Orthodox prophets is in reading lives of saints.   The life of St. John of Kronstadt comes first to my mind as he is a modern prophet.  Avoid reading anything from the new Mt. Athos, any "elder" born after 1875.  Instead read the Optina Elder series.

√ Related posts:

√ Anyone who has a problem with Fr. Seraphim Rose has a problem with the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church.  

√ Ladder of Divine Ascent, by St. John Climacus
Step 4 – On blessed and ever-memorable obedience 
48.  He whose will and desire in conversation is to establish his own opinion, even though what he says is true, should recognize that he is sick with the devil’s disease.  And if he behaves like this only in  conversation with his equals, then perhaps the rebuke of his superiors may heal him.  But if he acts in this way even with those who are greater and wiser than he, then his malady is humanly incurable.

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