"Satan, it would seem, is now entering naked into human history. The years just ahead promise to be more terrible than anyone can now easily conceive." - Fr. Seraphim Rose
Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future is one of Father Seraphim Rose’s most popular works, apparently moreso in Russia than in the United States, where I read that it is offered for sale in subway stations (in America, good luck finding it in a physical bookstore). The book offers a summary of all false religious phenomena that are helping to condemn souls in our modern times, such as New Age beliefs, mediumistic practices, “alien” sightings, and pseudo-demonic forms of church worship.
Do not seek spiritual experiences
Anyone who understands the nature of prelest or spiritual deception will recognize in this description of “Christian Yoga” precisely the characteristics of those who have gone spiritually astray, whether into pagan religious experiences or sectarian “Christian” experiences. The same striving for “holy and divine feelings,” the same openness and willingness to be “seized” by a spirit, the same seeking not for God but for “spiritual consolations,” the same self-intoxication which is mistaken for a “state of grace,” the same incredible ease with which one becomes “contemplative” or “mystical,” the same “mystical revelations” and pseudospiritual states. These are the common characteristics of all who are in this particular state of spiritual deception.
…the wiles of the devil are much more subtle than you may have imagined, that the willingness of our fallen human nature to mistake illusion for truth, emotional comfort for spiritual experience, is much greater than you think.
…the Orthodox Christian is protected against deception by the very knowledge that such deception not only exists, but is everywhere, including within himself. Bishop Ignatius writes: “We are all in deception. The knowledge of this is the greatest preventative against deception. It is the greatest deception to acknowledge oneself to be free of deception.”
[The] “contentment” and “peace” described [in] contemporary “spiritual” movements are quite manifestly the product of spiritual deception, of spiritual self-satisfaction—which is the absolute death of the God-oriented spiritual life.
When experience is emphasized above doctrine, the normal Christian safeguards which protect one against the attacks of fallen spirits are removed or neutralized, and the passiveness and “openness” which characterize the new cults literally open one up to be used by demons. Studies of the experiences of many of the “consciousness cults” show that there is a regular progression in them from experiences which at first are “good” or “neutral” to experiences which become strange and frightening and in the end clearly demonic.
If you seek spiritual experiences without a foundation of faith, or a desire to struggle to attain the virtues, such as humility and patience, you are making an idol out of the experience itself, and so God will allow the demons to deceive you in the way that you seek, because the desire for spiritual experiences is not compatible with the desire of God, who tested Christians know will grant experiences on His own timeline, not arbitrarily from the wish of someone in delusion who wants to primarily feel an emotion of ecstasy or grace. Instead, one must put in the required spiritual work to receive only what God knows he needs.
Zen is a religion of experiences
Zen, without any theology, is no more able than Hinduism to distinguish between good and evil spiritual experiences; it can only state what seems to be good because it brings “peace” and “harmony,” as judged by the natural powers of the mind and not be any revelation—everything else it rejects as more or less illusory. Zen appears to the subtle pride—so widespread today—of those who think they can save themselves, and thus have no need of any Saviour outside themselves.
I fell for the Eastern philosophy trap in my early 30s. My pride loved the notion of reaching existential “enlightenment” through my own works without having to submit my will or ego to a higher power. One of my favorite gurus at that time, Osho, remarked that there is no point of life at all, that you must just “be.” I accepted this notion of nihilism, but now I can see that according to his behavior and actions, there was indeed a point to life: to feed all of his passions by sleeping with female followers in America, amass the biggest collection of Rolls Royces and Rolexes in the world, kowtow with Hollywood celebrities, and rise to the de facto head of a political operation that resulted in one of his followers poisoning the local inhabitants. If you’re wondering how people can fall for such a man, look no further than pride, which blinds you to the truth, and gets you to believe in any lie or ideology which blocks their worship of Lord Jesus Christ.
Non-Christian “spirituality” is no longer a foreign importation in the West; it has become a native American religion putting down deep roots into the consciousness of the West. Let us be warned from this: the religion of the future will not be a mere cult or sect, but a powerful and profound religious orientation which will be absolutely convincing to the mind and heart of modern man.
The man who accepts Antichrist will believe in capitalism, democracy, comfort, Western medicine, and the notion that the point of life is to “enjoy” it in the here and now. When the Antichrist comes, perhaps 50% of the population will immediately declare fealty to him without any need of convincing, and those with a weak faith will eventually fall when the price of discomfort for their disloyalty to Christ becomes too high for their lukewarmness to bear.
Science fiction is a vehicle of the occult
In a word, the science-fiction literature of the 20th century is itself a clear sign of the loss of Christian values and the Christian interpretation of the world; it has become a powerful vehicle for the dissemination of a non-Christian philosophy of life and history, largely under open or concealed occult and Eastern influence; and in a crucial time of crisis and transition in human civilization it has been a prime force in creating the hope for and actual expectation of “visitors from outer space” who will solve mankind’s problems and conduct man to a new “cosmic” age of its history. While appearing to be scientific and non-religious, science-fiction literature is in actuality a leading propagator (in a secular form) of the “new religious consciousness” which is sweeping mankind as Christianity retreats.
The only use I can see in science fiction is that its ideas seem to be a source of future inspiration for the regime when it comes to designing and implementing methods of human control. They are trying, in quite the literal sense, to rule over us with advanced AI and robots like shown in the movies Terminator, I Robot, and RoboCop.
Demons are behind UFOs and alien sightings
…UFO encounters are but a contemporary form of an occult phenomenon which has existed throughout the centuries. Men have abandoned Christianity and look for “saviours” from outer space, and therefore the phenomenon supplies images of spacecraft and space beings.
In a recent bibliography of UFO phenomena prepared by the Library of Congress for the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the introduction states that “many of the UFO reports now being published in the popular press recount alleged incidents that are strikingly similar to demonic possession and psychic phenomena which have long been known to theologians and parapsychologists.”
The most puzzling aspect of UFO phenomena to most researchers—namely, the estrange mingling of physical and psychic characteristics in them—is no puzzle at all to readers of Orthodox spiritual books, especially the Lives of Saints. Demons also have “physical bodies,” although the matter in them is of such subtlety that it cannot be perceived by men unless their spiritual “doors of perception” are opened, whether with God’s will (as in the case of holy men) or against it (as in the case of sorcerers and mediums).
Orthodox literature has many examples of demonic manifestations which fit precisely the UFO pattern: apparitions of “solid” beings and objects (whether demons themselves or their illusionary creations) which suddenly “materialize” and “dematerialize,” always with the aim of awing and confusing people and ultimately leading them to perdition. The Lives of the 4th-century St. Anthony the Great and the 3rd-century St Cyprian the Former Sorcerer are filled with such incidents.
It is clear that the manifestations of today’s flying saucers are quite within the “technology” of demons; indeed, nothing else can explain them as well. The multifarious demonic deceptions of Orthodox literature have been adapted to the mythology of outer space, nothing more…
A true evaluation of the UFO experience may be made only on the basis of Christian revelation and experience, and is accessible only to the humble Christian believer who trusts these sources.
…UFOs are but the newest of the mediumistic techniques by which the devil gains initiates into his occult realm. They are a terrible sign that man has become susceptible to demonic influence as never before in the Christian era. In the 19th century it was usually necessary to seek out dark séance rooms in order to enter into contact with demons, but now one need only look into the sky (usually at night, it is true). Mankind has lost what remained of basic Christian understanding up to now, and now passively places itself at the disposal of whatever “powers” may descend from the sky. The new film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, is a shocking revelation of how superstitious “post-Christian” man has become—ready in an instant and unquestioningly to believe and follow hardly-disguised demons wherever they might lead.
We live near the end of this fearful age of demonic triumph and rejoicing, when the eerie “humanoids” (another of the masks of the demons) have become visible to thousands of people and by their absurd encounters take possession of the souls of those men from whom God’s grace has departed.
Orthodoxy has a credible and rational explanation for paranormal activity, and the definitive sign to me that alien sightings come from a place of evil is that the United States government is using them to distract the population from its horrible crimes through a drip-drop method of propaganda release that is keeping apostate Christians in heightened anticipation for some type of major alien encounter they think will be beneficial to mankind but which will really be used to control them just like all other Satanic schemes.
Navigating the end of an age
The conscious Orthodox Christian lives in a world that is clearly fallen, both the earth below and the stars above, all being equally far from the lost paradise for which he is striving. He is part of a suffering mankind all descended from the one Adam, the first man, and all alike in need of the redemption offered freely by the Son of God by His saving Sacrifice on the Cross. He knows that man is not to “evolve” into something “higher,” nor has he any reason to believe that there are “highly evolved” beings on other planets; but he knows well that there are indeed “advanced intelligences” in the universe besides himself; these are of two kinds, and he strives to live so as to dwell with those who serve God (the angels) and avoid contract with the others who have rejected God and strive in their envy and malice to draw man into their misfortune (the demons). He knows that man, out of self-love and weakness, is easily inclined to follow error and believe in “fairy tales” that promise contact with a “higher state” or “higher beings” without the struggle of Christian life—in fact, precisely as an escape from the struggle of Christian life. He distrusts his own ability to see through the deceptions of the demons, and therefore clings all the more firmly to the scriptural and Patristic guidelines which the Church of Christ provides for his life.
Such a one has the possibility to resist the religion of the future, the religion of antichrist, in whatever form it may present itself; the rest of mankind, save by a miracle of God, is lost.
The Holy Scriptures and Orthodox Fathers clearly tell us that the character of the last times will not at all be one of a great spiritual “revival,” of an “outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” but rather one of almost universal apostasy, of spiritual deception so subtle that the very elect, if that were possible, will be deceived, of the virtual disappearance of Christianity from the face of the earth.
The Second Coming of Christ will be unmistakable: it will be sudden, from heaven (Acts 1:11), and it will mark the end of this world. There can be no “preparation” for it—save only the Orthodox Christian preparation of repentance, spiritual life, and watchfulness. Those who are “preparing” for it in any other way, who say that he is anywhere “here”—especially “here” in the Temple of Jerusalem—or who preach that “Jesus is coming soon” without warning of the great deception that is to precede His Coming: are clearly the prophets of antichrist, the false Christ who must come first and deceive the world, including all “Christians” who are not or do not become truly Orthodox. There is to be no future “millennium.” For those who can receive it, the “millennium” of the Apocalypse (Apoc. 20:6) is now; the life of grace in the Orthodox Church for the whole “thousand years’ between the First Coming of Christ and the time of antichrist.
This is why the rapture doctrine is so dangerous. Those who believe in this 19th century innovation think that Christ will take them away before the tribulation, and that they won’t have to endure any sufferings. In other words, they will not believe that the evil world leader before them is Antichrist since they are still alive on the earth, yet to be raptured. They are likely to take the Mark of the Beast offered by Antichrist, because in their minds, they shouldn’t be here during his reign.
…we know that it is not only God Who works miracles; the devil has his own “miracles,” and in fact he can and does imitate virtually every genuine miracle of God. We shall therefore attempt in these pages to be careful to try the spirits, whether they are of God (I John 4:1).
“Sometimes the demons [work miracles] in order to lift into pride the man who believes himself to possess the miraculous gift, and so prepare him for a more miraculous fall.” [St John Cassian]
I suspect the reason that God does not grant many spiritual experiences is that the pride of the recipient gets to such a fervor that he comes to believe in his own sainthood and infallibility. Instead, God grants spiritual experiences in a safe manner to those who are humble or in dire need.
Protestant “revival” and speaking in tongues
What can be the reason for such a spectacular success of a “Christian” revival in a seemingly “post-Christian” world? Doubtless the answer lies in two factors: first, the receptive ground which consists of those millions of “Christians” who feel that their religion is dry, over-rational, merely external, without fervency or power; and second, the evidently powerful “spirit” that lies behind the phenomena, which is capable, under the proper conditions, or producing a multitude and variety of “charismatic” phenomena, including healing, speaking in tongues, interpretation, prophecy—and, underlying all of these, an overwhelming experience which is called the “Baptism of (or in, or with) the Holy Spirit.”
[Dr. Koch] concludes that the “tongues” movement is not at all a “revival,” for there is in it little repentance or conviction of sin, but chiefly the search for power and experience; the phenomenon of tongues is not the gift described in the Acts, nor is it (in most cases) actual demonic possession; rather, “it becomes more and more clear that perhaps over 95% of the whole tongues movement is mediumistic in character”.
What is a “medium”? A medium is a person with a certain psychic sensitivity which enables him to be the vehicle or means for the manifestation of unseen forces or beings (where actual beings are involved, as Starets Ambrose of Optina has clearly stated, these are always the fallen spirits whose realm this is, and not the “spirits of the dead” imagined by spiritists).
Do we not have here a clue to the chief actual accomplishment of the modern Pentecostal Movement—that it has discovered a new mediumistic technique for entering into and preserving a psychic state wherein miraculous “gifts” become commonplace? If this is true, then the “charismatic” definition of the “laying on of hands”—“the simple ministry by one or more persons who themselves are channels of the Holy Spirit to others not yet so blessed,” in which “the important thing [is] that those who minister have themselves experienced the movement of the Holy Spirit”—describes precisely the transference of the mediumistic gift by those who have already acquired it and have themselves become mediums. The “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” thus becomes mediumistic initiation.
“The tongues movement is the expression of a delirious condition through which a breaking in of demonic powers manifests itself” (Koch). That is, the movement, which is certainly “delirious” in giving itself over to the activity of a “spirit” that is not the Holy Spirit, is not demonic in intention or in itself (as contemporary occultism and satanism certainly are), but by its nature it lays itself particular open to the manifestation of obvious demonic forces, which do in fact sometimes appear.
If these “charismatic” experiences are religious experiences at all, then they are pagan religious experiences; and in fact they seem to correspond exactly to the mediumistic initiation experience of spirit-possession, which is caused by “an inner force welling up inside attempting to take control”.
Protestant “revivalism” [is] a phenomenon that preserves only a fragment of anything genuinely Christians, substituting for Christianity an emotional “religious” hysteria whose victim falls into the fatal delusion that he is “saved.”
Modern Protestantism is easy if you’re declared saved after one or two emotional experiences very early on your walk with Christ. It appeals to those who fail to see the need for spiritual labor. What I don’t understand with those who believe in “once-saved-always-saved” is how they reconcile the completeness and finality of their mission before God with the fact that they are still alive. If you are definitively saved, why are you still here? Why are you not in your resurrected body, which is the final requirement for being saved? How can anyone presuppose God’s final judgment of His creatures, which has yet to come? As an Orthodox Christian, I’m not sure if I will be saved, but I’m more sure of it today than I was yesterday, and I will approach tomorrow with fear and trembling to endure until the end.
Spiritual gifts are given only to the most faithful
According to Bishop Ignatius, the gifts of the Holy Spirit “exist only in Orthodox Christians who have attained Christian perfection, purified and prepared beforehand by repentance.” They “are given to Saints of God solely at God’s good will and God’s action, and not by the will of men and not by one’s own power. They are given unexpectedly, extremely rarely, in cases of extreme need, by God’s wondrous providence, and not just at random” (St. Isaac the Syrian). “It should be noted that at the present time spiritual gifts are granted in great moderation, corresponding to the enfeeblement that has enveloped Christianity in general. These gifts served entirely the needs of salvation.
Seeding the soil for Antichrist
…the imitator of Christ will appear as a kind of saviour, solving man’s economic and political problems and offering to satisfy his spiritual aspirations through what Fr. Seraphim called a “melting pot” of science and world religions. [Hieromonk Damascene]
The last great deceiver, who in the end will pretend to be Christ, will be seen as but another magnificent product of evolution. [Hieromonk Damascene]
This book is an excellent wake-up call for lapsed Christians, whether Orthodox or not. There are a lot of demonic traps out there and the sad reality is that most Christians are so oblivious to them that they open demonic doors thinking that it will bring them closer to the god of easy Christianity, who gives spiritual experiences from paltry spiritual labor. And now we are arriving at the end of human history where a system of globalization is ready to welcome Antichrist, even if the human managers of this system don’t know exactly how they’re bringing it about. Whether consciously or not, world leaders will accelerate a mass persecution of Christians who would not accept Antichrist, and this persecution has already begun in germ stage. Who knows, maybe some of us will be alive when the Antichrist comes, but until then, I highly advise you to read Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future so you have a fighting chance to say no to the innumerable benefits that Satan will offer you to snatch away your salvation before the final moment.
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