Beloved brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη! Αληθώς Ανέστη!
WHY CHRISTIANITY SHOULD NOT CHANGE WITH THE TIMES
By Saint Theophan the Recluse
It reached my ears that, as it seems, you consider my sermons very strict and believe that today no one should think this way, no one should be living this way and therefore, no one should be teaching this way. "Times have changed!"
How glad I was to hear this. This means that you listen carefully to what I say, and not only do you listen, but you are also willing to abide by it. What more could we hope for, we who preach as we were ordered and as much we were ordered?
Despite all this, in no way can I agree with your opinion. I even consider it my duty to comment on it and to correct it, since -- even though it perhaps goes against your desire and conviction - it comes from something sinful, as though Christianity could alter its doctrines, its canons, its sanctifying ceremonies to answer to the spirit of each age and adjust itself to the changing tastes of the sons of this century, as though it could add or subtract something.
Yes, it is not so. Christianity must remain eternally unchanging, in no way being dependent on or guided by the spirit of each age. Instead, Christianity is meant to govern and direct the spirit of the age for anyone who obeys its teachings. To convince you of this, I will put forward some thoughts for you to consider.
Some said that my teaching is strict. First of all, my teaching is not my own, nor it should be. In this sacred office nobody should, nor even can, preach his own teaching. If I or someone else ever dare to do so, you can put us outside the Church.
We preach the teachings of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles, and the Holy Church, which is guided by the Holy Spirit. At the same time, we make sure to do everything possible to keep these teachings whole and inviolate in your minds and hearts. Every thought we present and every word we use, we do so very carefully, so as not to overshadow this brilliant and divine teaching in any way. Nobody can act differently.
Such a law that calls for each man's preaching in the Church to be "God-sent", was established at the creation of the world, and should thus remain valid until the end of the world. The Prophet Moses, after the delivery of the Commandments from God Himself to the people of Israel, concluded: "You shall not add to the Word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2).
This law of constancy is so unalterable that the Lord and Savior Himself, when He was teaching the people on the mountain, said: "Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets, I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the law until all is accomplished" (St. Matthew 5:17-18).
This means that anyone who wrongly interprets the Commandments of God and lessen their validity, will be an outcast in the future life. This is what He said at the beginning of His preaching. He assured the same thing to Saint John the Theologian, the beholder of ineffable revelations, to whom He described the final judgment of the world and the Church, indicating in the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation): "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book" (Apoc. 22:18-19).
From the time of His first appearance in the world until the Second Coming, Christ has given the Holy Apostles and their successors the following law: "God therefore and make disciples of all the nations…Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" (St. Matthew 28:19-20).
That means "for you to teach, not what anyone else could possibly imagine, but what I ordered, and to the end of the world." "And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen" (St. Matthew 28:20).
The Apostles received this law and sacrificed their lives to keep it. And to those who wanted to keep them from preaching what it was they preached under the threat of punishment and death, they replied: "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20).
This clear law was delivered by the Apostles to their successors, was accepted by them, and has timeless effect in the Church of God. Because of this law, the Church is the pillar and the ground of truth. Can you see then what an inviolable steadfastness it has? After that, who would be so bold as to stubbornly disturb or move anything in Christian doctrine and law?
Let us confine ourselves as though in a cage. Or better, let us drag ourselves, as if we were passing through a narrow passage. Let it be narrow, so no one can deviate neither to the right left, nor the left. Yet undoubtedly, through this narrow way we will obtain the Kingdom of the Heavens in return. For as you know this Kingdom is the Kingdom of the Lord. The Lord laid this narrow way and said, "Follow exactly this route and you will obtain the Kingdom of Heaven." Could anyone then doubt whether the traveler will get to his destination? And what mind would one have who starts wanting all kinds of annulment of the Commandments, when by doing this he would immediately lose his way and be lost?
Once you have fully understood this assertion, do not worry if something in our teaching seems to be strict. The only thing you should strive for is to carefully make sure it is from the Lord. And after you have made sure it is from the Lord, accept it with all your heart, no matter how strict or obliging it may be. And not only avoid wanting special treatment and leniency with doctrine and the ethics, but even flee from all these, as though fleeing from the fire of Gehenna. Those who cannot escape from this are those who think up such things and with them lure those who are spiritually weak to follow them. Amen.
[source: from the website of the Holy Monastery of Pantokrator [Melissohori, Greece].
Please note: In recent years we have seen the collapse of many Christian confessions because they deviated from the Divine Truth. It is very foolish and humanly impossible to attempt to dilute or to adulterate the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ with human fabrications and deceptions. Many have tried over the centuries and have failed miserably. Evil will make every effort to destroy anyone or anything that adheres to the Will and Commandments of God. "Evil brings defective reasoning and confusion of thought."
Listening to the voice of God through the Holy Scripture we hear:"O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge--by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith"(1 Timothy 6:20-21).
"But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine"(St. Titus 2:1).
"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false prophets among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of Truth will be blasphemed" (2 Peter 2:1-2).
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and God Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God