Monday, February 14, 2011


With outrage in my heart and tears in my eyes, allow me to proclaim something terribly important:  No human being can save his own soul.  I can't save mine, you can't save yours, and we certainly can't save anybody else's.

Yes, I know the New Testament language about saving one's spouse or saving many, but that doesn't mean paying off what they owe God so He will save them in spite of themselves.  It means helping someone along the path to salvation, moving their hearts toward God, inspiring, instructing them perhaps, and praying for them.

Only God can save a human being.  God, period.  God alone.  Yes, we have to cooperate as best we can, but we don't have to succeed, just be willing to try.  We do not have to succeed!  You don't have to do anything but repent, which means decide to try to live in communion with God, renouncing wicked ways. 

I think it was Martin Luther said a person cannot be saved by "monkery" and he was not one bit wrong here.  Remember that when you are reading the works of the Orthodox ascetics.   Your efforts can be good and holy and God will honor them, but He doesn't save you on account of them.  He saves you because He loves you and wants to.  Your baptism was your betrothal to Christ, and He will honor it and keep it; only you can break the engagement, and even then, only willfully.

So why my outrage, why my tears?  Because of something that happened to some people I hold dear. 

If anybody tells you, and I do mean anybody, even if he or she seems to be a saint or an angel of light, if ANYBODY tells you that by embracing a monastic lifestyle you will gain the salvation not only of yourself, but of your whole family up to seven generations back and seven generations to come, this is nonsense and worse than nonsense; this is spiritual blackmail.  And it happens also to be one of the pick-up lines of a cult posing as Orthodox.  RUN, DO NOT WALK, in the opposite direction.


amy said...

Ugh. Dreadful.

Timely post, considering that I am currently writing a letter to the writers of A Beka curriculum regarding their view of monasticism. Not exactly as you expressed what your loved ones have experienced, but the fact that monastics believe they can "earn their salvation through works"


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Well, properly taught monastics do not believe it. What does the curriculum in question have to say? And, if I may ask, what are you saying in your letter? If you like, you may reply to me via e-mail, which (for the next couple of days only) is

Thanks, Amy, and good for you!

DebD said...

I'm so sorry.

When I was in instruction with Father he told the story of a family he Chrismated but who eventually found OCA lacking and wanted something "stricter" - so forth and so on... it was a sad ending that doesn't sound to dissimilar to this. I understand from friend that this is a standard story of warning he gives to all his catechumens. It's important to hear.

Prayers for your friends that they will be enlightened and the damage done is not too deep.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Deb, thank you. And thank God, they ARE now enlightened, the hard way, every bit of naivete they ever had burned away.

They are glad to be back, grateful, feel they have learned several extremely valuable lessons, and say that God has just somehow miraculously wiped all the bitterness and pain out of their hearts.

I still couldn't stop crying all morning today.

s-p said...

Deb, whenever a newbie wants something stricter it is 99.9% of the time prelest and delusion. But of course anyone who points that out is deluded and a slacker. Sigh...

Sarah in Indiana said...

Lord have mercy. So sad to hear this! Prayers for anyone under such an unfortunate influence.

DebD said...

just seeing your update Anastasia...I thought I had this post on email followup, but didn't. I'm am glad they have gotten away from that and haven't been turned off by Orthodoxy altogether. Praise God!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Deb, they're in a much better place, but completely turned off by asceticism (danger of trying to earn salvation) and by icons (danger of slipping into idolatry).

They spent seven long years living together as brother and sister, something they now deeply regret.

And of course, now they're destitute. They came away from their bad experience with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs.

DebD said...

so tragic.

margaret said...

This is tragic and horrible and amazing at the same time. My small foray into monasticism with a spiritual director, stavrophore mentor and monastic/hieromonk superior has been so incredibly hard. How on earth do people manage it under the guidance of a cult? I can't begin to imagine what your friends have been through and I am so, so sorry. It hurts so much to read about Orthodoxy being hijacked like this.