America Has Been Exhausted by Heresy to the Point of Atheism, Must Be Introduced to True Christianity (VIDEO, Transcript)

In the video below we have the sermon of the popular Orthodox Abbot Tryphon, delivered during a spiritual retreat of young men in his monastery. The experienced monk reflects on the causes of the high rate of atheism, especially in the West, and outlines what he believes is the best Orthodox approach to sharing the Faith in an atheistic society.

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TRANSCRIPTION:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

One of the highlights of my year was when I was at the Orthodox Montana conference and of the 150 or so registered participants, 95 of them were young men. It was a great inspiration to me and we just today are are concluding a young men's retreat here at the monastery. I had the video taken to show all of these young men here to add sort of an impact what I want to say for this video that will go up today.

One of the beautiful things about Orthodoxy is that it is in many ways a secret from the whole of the world, but not because we are keeping it from the world, but because oftentimes we failed to share our Orthodoxy. I read recently a poll that was taken at different countries around the world and the huge number of people who are now claiming to be atheists - they don't believe. The worst country of all of course was China, but Scandinavian countries, Central America places, European nations, the 70% of the people claiming to be atheists. One of the experiences that I've had over the years is when I've spoken at college campuses and I have had this: I'm looking out at a sea of young people and most of them are not only not churchgoers but they've never been churchgoers; they were never brought up in a church and so, when they see someone standing in front of them like me with my robes and my beard and my cross around my neck, I could just see in their eyes that there's like,  "oh, here we go... what's this going to be about? I'm an atheist, I don't care what this guy has to say".

But then, when I start sharing Orthodoxy - this beautiful deep spirituality that is Orthodoxy - and it's sort of like a light bulb goes on in their head. You can see in their eyes that they're seeing Christianity for the very first time. I remember once an Orthodox bishop friend of mine told me that he felt that this atheism that has become the prominent religion of western civilization is based on a turning away from Calvinism and that angry Calvinist god image, and people just don't buy it. They don't want anything to do with it, so they walk away.

In this day when we have so many young men becoming Orthodox, I'm not surprised because I saw in these college campuses the same thing happening with young people - because people are hungry for faith, they're hungry for God and most of the time they don't even know it, because they've never been taught about God, except maybe this big papa in the sky and they don't believe it, they don't accept it... well, I don't either. I was speaking at one college campus a few years ago and I was in a in a large lecture hall and I realized after I had been invited that it was according to the setup: three professors are going to have this religious person - overly religious in their minds - it's going to stand there and all these young people are going to see what a fool I am because I am a believer, and I remember sitting behind this podium as this room was going up over 60 seats in there but they were standing room only and I have an hour to speak and half an hour to answer questions. I sat down behind the podium while they were still assembling and I prayed probably the shortest prayer that I've ever prayed, and that prayer was: help!

And then I stood up and I said: Normally I will speak for an hour and then take questions and answers for a half hour, but I'm going to reverse it and we're going to speak about what you're interested in". Wouldn't you know the very first hand that was raised was a young man midway off to the left and he said: "Why should I care about anything you have to say - I'm an atheist." So I asked him to define God for me, to find if this God that you do not believe exists. So he basically just described this sort of angry God was ready to send people to hell and, you know, maybe created the world and it was all this negative stuff which was very Calvinist.

I said: "Well, I guess if we're going to define what you just said as atheism, I guess I must be an atheist, because I don't believe in that God either." And then I talked about the God that I do believe, in the God that reveals Himself in the heart, and I asked him if he believed that quantum physics was of true science and he said, "Well, of course", and I said: " Well, are you aware that in quantum physics a quantum physicist discovers that about 80 percent of what they ultimately accept as truth is intuitively discovered? It's not a science it's not the kind of science like, say, biology - that is grounded in this world and in the physical nature - and I said that's what Orthodoxy is: it is a science of the soul. It is a science that is revealed to us in the news that the eye of the soul. And I said there's no one here that could convince me that what I have in the heart - that I believe is true - is wrong. There's no one that could convince me of that, just as there's no one that could convince any quantum physicist that might be among you that his science is false.

One of the beautiful things about Orthodoxy is that we, when we evangelize, if we're true to our faith, it's not about going out and tagging people on the street with the pamphlet, it's not about knocking on doors, it's not about putting pressure on your family or friends. Lots of times I have young people who are recent converts and they have family members that are sort of irritated with the fact that, "Oh, you're a church goer now", and they are against it, and they try to dissuade them of it, and at the same time these young people want to share the faith with those in their family and among their friends that don't have any faith. "How", they ask, "do we do that?"

Well, I remember what I did with my own parents when my mother especially was very upset when I all of a sudden was Orthodox and a monk. She could no longer be proud of me if, as she put it, because I'm now dressing funny and looked kind of funny and smell of incense. She saw that as kind of like a return to being a hippie. So what I did is, I prayed to God to help me be the very best son that I could be to my parents and I say that to all of you: pray that God help you be the very best friend, the very best son, the very best citizen, not being judgmental, not pointing fingers, not getting in everybody's face about the truth of Orthodoxy, because the truth of Orthodoxy can only be imparted from the heart. It's not you who's going to convert anyone, it is the Holy Spirit. And oftentimes we get in the way of the work of the Holy Spirit. So if we are to be true to our faith, we live it and we let everyone see the light of Christ in us on a daily basis, by being loving, by being forgiving, even when you have someone that's just insulting you for your beliefs. You don't lash out. It's not about winning the debate, it's about letting the light of Christ shine through you!

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.




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