Heresies, Paganism, and the Occult - Some of the Devil's 'Many Nets' to Deceive the Truth Seekers - 20th c. Russian Bishop

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, faithful children, beloved in the Lord.   

In these difficult times there are many nets of the enemy deployed to keep us from entering the way of salvation and to keep us away from this blessed goal. This is especially dangerous for those who have not yet acquired the proper spiritual experience, but who have already felt in their souls an inner longing for the sanctity of Orthodoxy. 

Today, a great number of young people, as well as older people, hopefully and desperately seek guidance and comfort in their grief. But here begins the spiritual trial that inevitably every person who sincerely wishes to find saving truth.

It would seem that there is nothing to doubt and ponder - go to any Orthodox church, and there you will find what you are looking for, you will receive all the necessary instructions on the path of true Christian life and spiritual perfection. But - alas! - Man is sinful, weak, and prone to muddle-headed thinking and superstition. In deviating from the right path, he departs from the truth and gets caught in the net of the enemy.

I wish, in keeping with my archpastoral ministry and the dictates of my Christian conscience, to warn all who are prepared to listen to my exhortation - faithful Church members and those who are just seeking their way into the Church - against this danger.

Today, false doctrines and sectarian communities have proliferated to an enormous extent, speaking recklessly and capriciously about questions that are beyond their reach: about God, about the salvation of the soul, about the rules of godly living. I beg you to be careful not to be carried away by these things, and to be careful and vigilant, keeping in mind how detrimental to the sanity of the soul the association with such societies can be.

Faith is undoubtedly a good thing. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6), teaches us the holy Apostle Paul. But this faith must be right and pure, that is, exactly as it was brought to earth by the Savior of the world himself and which he passed on to his holy apostles and to his Church.

It is in such faith, fully and without any distortion, the dogmatic teaching of Christianity and the rules of spiritual life, ascetic - that is, all that serves for eternal salvation. It is this Orthodox faith that Christ commanded His disciples, saying, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:19-21). It is this one saving, holy faith-the faith of the apostles, the faith of the fathers-that has established the universe and shattered all the diabolical attempts to thwart the Divine House-building of human salvation.

It is most succinctly and satisfactorily set forth in the Nicene Creed, which we read in our morning prayers and sing in our churches at Liturgy. This faith taught those who were willing to heed its exhortations to do good and to crucify their flesh with passions and lusts.

Through repentance and holy Baptism, it brings each person into the gracious bowels of the Church, and through the great Sacrament of the Eucharist, into close 'communion with Christ Himself. This faith must be followed and held constant by all of us.

What must we keep away from, what false doctrines must we guard our hearts and minds from? First of all, from all pagan faiths that worship the phenomena of nature; from Eastern teachings such as Krishnaists, Vishnuists, yogis, and the like; from all non-Christian worldviews; from faiths that, although Christian, admit human false-mindedness, fabrications, and deviations from the original divine purity of the doctrine of Christ. These include Catholicism, which fell away from the graceful fullness of church life in 1054, and Protestantism, which broke away from Catholicism in the 16th century and gave rise to numerous religious movements: Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism and others.

These deviations produced, in turn, many sects: Baptists and Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonites and Mormons, Presbyterians and others. In addition, already in our time there have appeared in Russia sects of "Virgin Center" and "White Brotherhood", "Moon Church" and adherents of occultism, spiritualism, astrology, hypnotic methods of influence, etc., etc.

Why should we distance ourselves from these faiths and sects? Because they contain wisdom that is earthly, sinful, contradicts and opposes the true Christian doctrine and perverts the rules of pious and righteous life. One should not be at enmity with their adherents, nor should one withdraw from worldly affairs, but one should not enter into prayerful fellowship and should in no way rely on their teachings as a basis for one's practical and spiritual life.

Beloved, stand fast in the faith, be strong in good works, keeping faithfulness to holy Orthodoxy, and may the God of peace be with you all! Amen.

Metropolitan John (Snychev) of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, "The Voice of Eternity: Sermons and teachings". St. Petersburg, 1994.

Source: (Russian)

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