by Fr. Seraphim Rose
IT IS TRUE ENOUGH, to be sure, that an Orthodox awakening would be much to be desired in our days, when many Orthodox Christians have lost the salt of true Christianity, and the true and fervent Orthodox Christian life is indeed rarely to be seen. Modern life has become too comfortable; worldly life has become too attractive; for too many, Orthodoxy has become simply a matter of membership in a church organization or the "correct" fulfillment of external rites and practices. There would be need enough for a true Orthodox spiritual awakening, but this is not what we see in the Orthodox "charismatics." Just like the "charismatic" activists among Protestants and Roman Catholics, they are fully in harmony with the spirit of the times; they are not in living contact with the sources of the Orthodox spiritual tradition, preferring the currently fashionable Protestant techniques of revivalism. They are one with the leading current of today's apostate "Christianity": the ecumenical movement.
There have been true Orthodox "awakenings" in the past: one thinks immediately of St. Cosmas of Aitolia, who walked from village to village in 18th-century Greece and inspired the people to return to the true Christianity of their ancestors; or St. John of Kronstadt in our own century, who brought the age-old message of Orthodox spiritual life to the urban masses of Petersburg. Then there are the Orthodox monastic instructors who were truly "Spirit-filled" and left their teaching to the monastics as well as the laymen of the latter times: one thinks of the Greek St. Symeon the New Theologian in the 10th century, and the Russian St. Seraphim of Sarov in the 19th. St. Symeon is badly misused by the Orthodox "charismatics" (he was speaking of a Spirit different from theirs!); and St. Seraphim is invariably quoted out of context in order to minimize his emphasis on the necessity to belong to the Orthodox Church to have a true spiritual life. In the "Conversation" of St. Seraphim with the layman Motovilov on the "acquisition of the Holy Spirit" (which the Orthodox "charismatics" quote without the parts here italicized), this great Saint tells us: "The grace of the Holy Spirit which was given to us all, the faithful of Christ, in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, is sealed by the Sacrament of Chrismation on the chief parts of the body, as appointed by the Holy Church, the eternal keeper of this grace." And again: "The Lord listens equally to the monk and the simple Christian layman, provided that both are Orthodox."
As opposed to the true Orthodox spiritual life, the "charismatic revival" is only the experiential side of the prevailing "ecumenical" fashion - a counterfeit Christianity that betrays Christ and His Church. No Orthodox "charismatic" could possibly object to the coming "Union" with those very Protestants and Roman Catholics with whom, as the interdenominational "charismatic" song goes, they are already "one in the Spirit, one in the Lord," and who have led them and inspired their "charismatic" experience. The "spirit" that has inspired the "charismatic revival" is the spirit of antichrist , or more precisely those "spirits of devils" of the last times whose "miracles" prepare the world for the false messiah.