There Is No Salvation Without Christ, But the Hierarch of Fanar Claims Otherwise

The Fanar claims that Orthodoxy is only "one of a myriad of paths" to God, and that if you think otherwise, you are "at the mercy of prejudice". Let us analyze whether this is true.

Archbishop Elpidophoros, head of the largest structure of the Constantinople Church, the Archdiocese in the United States, has actually rejected Christ and the whole host of martyrs. At the same time, the Phanar calls for all Orthodox Christians to follow, and not just calls, but demands submission from all Local Churches, arguing that this is the "canonical order" of the Church. Now resistance to the papist claims of the Fanar becomes nothing less than a confession of Christ and Orthodoxy. Why? We will deal with it in the article.

Speaking in New York at the International Summit on Religious Freedom on July 15, 2021, Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniades), head of the Archdiocese of the Constantinople Patriarchate in the United States, said that all religions are "myriad paths leading to the same place. Lest that quote seem taken out of context, here is the text of the entire sentence: "When you elevate one religion above all others, it is as if you decide that there is only one path leading to the top of the mountain. But in reality you just don't see the myriad paths that lead to the same place, because you are surrounded by blocks of prejudice that block your view."

For the Patriarchate of Constantinople, are all religions equal?

This is not a reservation or simply an unfortunate form of speech; it is a long-standing and consistent view of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. On October 19, 2020, Patriarch Bartholomew, while participating in an ecumenical prayer service organized by the Catholic community of St. Egidio in Rome, declared that other religions are "the wealth of the sons of God.

The same thought was expressed by Athenagoras (Spirou), one of the most ardent ecumenists on the patriarchal throne of Constantinople. He said literally the following about heresies: "And I do not see them (heresies) anywhere! I see only truths, partial, truncated, sometimes out of place and claiming to capture and encapsulate an inexhaustible mystery...".

The well-known American missionary and author Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) wrote in his book "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future": "The Greek Episcopate of North and South America officially declared at the 19th Congress of Clergy and Laity (Athens, July 1968): 'We believe that the ecumenical movement, although Christian in origin, must be a movement of all religions in pursuit of unity'.

This theory, which claims that all religions lead their followers to the same thing, is called the "syncretistic theory of religion. It is quite widespread among philosophers and religious scholars alike. For example, the famous American theologian and New Testament scholar Marcus Joel Borg claimed, "I find it simply incredible that the God of the entire universe chose to reveal himself in only one religion. The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu of Cape Town, declared, "No religion can claim to have all the truth about the mysteries [of faith]." One statement of Hinduism reads, "Jotto mos, toto pos," which means: all religions are simply different paths leading to the same goal. A similar statement exists in Buddhism.

Christianity, however, states just the opposite, very clearly and unambiguously.

"No one comes to the Father except through me."

The entire New Testament asserts the idea that without Christ there is no salvation. Here are just the most basic quotations.

"For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Blessed Augustine, commenting on this passage in Acts, writes: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5); for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved, and God established faith in Him for all, having raised Him from the dead (Acts 17:31). So, without this faith, that is, faith in the one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, without faith in His resurrection, which God has determined for all, which in any case cannot really be believed without His incarnation and death - so Christian truth has no doubt that without faith in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ the ancient saints, though they were holy, could not be cleansed from sin and justified by God's grace."

"I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Practically our contemporary St. Luke of Crimea writes: "These words of the Lord Jesus Christ are extremely important: they rebuke all those who think that they believe in God, but do not believe in Christ. There are many people who reject the Gospel, consider it a collection of untrue accounts, do not believe in miracles, do not believe in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, but say that they believe in God. These, who do not believe in Christ, who do not believe in His divinity, are rebuked by the Lord Jesus Christ with these words: No one comes to the Father except through me. To come to the Father, to have fellowship with the Father, to pray in such a way that the Lord hears, is possible only through His Son, through the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are no other "paths leading to the same place," as Archbishop Elpidophorus claims. There is only the way to salvation and the way to perdition.

Just as there can be no two truths, no two lives, and no two ways. The Lord is very clear about this. There are no other "paths leading to the same place," as Archbishop Elpidophorus claims. There is only the way to salvation and the way to perdition. The Savior speaks of this in the following passage quoted here:

"He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). St. Cyril of Alexandria says: "The guilt of unbelief is grave and great, because He is the Son and the only begotten; for the greater faith deserves the One offended, the greater transgression will be judged by the one who dishonors. The unbeliever, he says, is already condemned, as he himself has awarded due punishment to himself by knowing that he rejects the Liberator from judgment." In the same chapter of his Gospel, the Apostle John the Theologian states, "He who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).

And the following words of Scripture directly excommunicate from the Church all not only those who do not believe in Christ, but also those who do not love Him (by the way, one is impossible without the other): "Whoever does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, anathema, maranatha" (1 Cor. 16:22). St. Theophan the Recluse writes: "If one does not love the Lord, it is a direct sign that he is not in union with Him; and if he is not in union with Him, he is alien to Christianity, alien to the body of the Church, self-isolated from it, although he carries the name of Christian, - anathema, and therefore, excommunicated from the body of the Church".

Is it possible to love the Lord Jesus Christ and claim that apart from faith in Him there are "myriad paths" leading to the same result? The question is rhetorical. The Lord Himself said: "Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me wastes away" (Matt. 12:30). Saint Righteous John of Kronstadt affirmed that not only members of other religions go against Christ, but also confessions that call themselves Christian, but have fallen away from the One Church, also squander the property of Christ: "The words of our Savior Jesus Christ are true: 'Whoever is not with Me is against Me. Catholics, Lutherans and Reformers have fallen away from the Church of Christ - they are not of one mind with us, they enmity against us, strongly persecute us to death, oppress us in every way for our faith, ridicule it and us and make us all kinds of trouble, especially in the main places of their population, they clearly go against Christ and His Church, do not revere the life-giving Cross, holy icons, holy relics, do not respect fasting, turn the tenets of faith savingly. They are not with us, against us and against Christ. Turn them, O Lord, to your true Church and save them."

The claim that it is possible to come to God in any other way than through Christ is tantamount to claiming the futility of His suffering and death on the Cross.

Was the suffering of the martyrs pointless?

To say that it is possible to come to God in any other way than through Christ is tantamount to saying that His suffering and death on the cross were in vain. This is blasphemy against God. This is the very real denial of Christ. This is also the denial of all the martyrs of Christ of all times, who went to tremendous suffering, but who did not sacrifice to idols. For if, according to Archbishop Elpidophorus, all religions lead to the same thing, then the suffering of the martyrs is vain and meaningless.

To visualize this more clearly, let us recall the martyrdom of the saints Faith, Hope, Love, and their mother Sophia. It is impossible to read without shuddering what torments the executioners subjected these girls to. And their holy mother not only watched the suffering of her children, but also strengthened them so that they endured everything and did not deny the Lord. It turns out that all this could have been avoided, and there would have been nothing wrong if they had sacrificed to idols, for idolatry, according to Archbishop Elpidophorus, is also one of the "paths" leading to the same place. And their firm conviction that Christ alone is "...the way and the truth and the life..." (John 14:6) is, according to the head of the American Archdiocese, "clumps of prejudice that obscure your view."

Where does "first without equals" lead the flock?

In 2014, Archbishop Elpidophorus articulated the Phanarian concept that the Patriarch of Constantinople is not just the first in honor among all Orthodox bishops, but "the first without equals," a hierarch with special, unique powers. The quintessence of this theory is these words: "The primacy of the Archbishop of Constantinople, as we have said, has nothing to do with the diptychs, merely expressing a hierarchical order (which, in contradictory definitions, the Moscow Patriarchate document acknowledges to some extent, but essentially denies). If we talk about the source of primacy, such a source is the very person of the Archbishop of Constantinople, who as bishop is the first "among equals," but as Archbishop of Constantinople and, consequently, the Ecumenical Patriarch, is first without equals (primus sine paribus).

In 2018 Patriarch Bartholomew, speaking at the Synaxis of the Episcopate of the Church of Constantinople, stated, "The Ecumenical Patriarchate is responsible for the establishment of ecclesial and canonical order, since it alone has the canonical privilege, and the prayer and blessing of the Church and the Ecumenical Councils, to fulfill this supreme and exclusive responsibility. If the Ecumenical Patriarchate abdicates its responsibility and withdraws from the inter-Orthodox scene, the Local Churches will act "like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36), wasting energy on ecclesiastical initiatives that mix the humility of faith with the arrogance of authority." The head of the Phanar also declared that the Patriarchate of Constantinople embodies "the ethos of Orthodoxy," that is, its essence. But is the "ethos of Orthodoxy" compatible with the recognition that one can also come to God through the ways of other religions? Obviously not.

On June 11, 2021, the head of the Fanar declared that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has "special duties and privileges" among the Local Orthodox Churches, and that it does not intend to make any concessions concerning these "privileges and duties." He also declared that he would not allow "the alienation of a blessed ecclesiology as described in the texts of our history," nor would he allow "condescension, oikonomia, politeness, some benign concessions ... to which, unfortunately, some of my predecessors resorted, dreaming of unity, but being far removed from an authentic and ancient ecclesiology." This "true ecclesiology," according to Patriarch Bartholomew, consists in the fact that the Patriarchate of Constantinople occupies the supreme position in all Orthodoxy and can dictate its will to all others.

But this notion of supremacy, first, is alien to the Gospel, for as Christ said, "...whoever wishes to be greater among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first must be your slave..." (Matt. 20:26,27). And second, it is alien to Church tradition and history, as the history of the fall of the Latins from the Church has amply demonstrated. The attempt to assert the primacy of the Roman cathedra in the whole Church was one of the main reasons why in 1054 Patriarch Michael Cerullarius of Constantinople excommunicated the Latins from the Church, a decision which was then approved by all the Local Churches. Today, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has already taken this slippery slope.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church's refusal to submit to lawless orders from Istanbul is a confession of the Orthodox faith and an affirmation of the true Gospel teaching.

But apart from the inconsistency with the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, the desire of the Phanar for supremacy is also dangerous in that those who recognize this supremacy will inevitably have to follow the Phanar down the path of unification with Catholics, which has already been repeatedly stated by the leadership of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and also down the path of recognizing all religions as leading to the same God, which, we repeat, is the true denial of Christ.

Thus, the refusal of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to submit to lawless orders from Istanbul is a confession of the Orthodox faith and an affirmation of the true Gospel teaching. This confession takes on special significance today, on the eve of Patriarch Bartholomew's announced visit to Ukraine, on Independence Day. The UOC protests against this visit not only because of the Phanar's legalization of Ukrainian schismatics, but also because the Phanar has deviated from the Truth and is drawing its followers into teachings incompatible with Orthodoxy.

Source: (Russian)

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