Friday, April 1, 2011

The Devil in the Details

     Last month the Greek Orthodox Church condemned and excommunicated a well known Eastern Christian Vassula Ryden. To many this was scandalous news for she truly had a positive message that many of us would like to hear about Church unity. What is unfortunate about the message is in the way it had been received, which was through the well known occult practice of automatic writing. Consequently, to accept her message you in turn would have to accept a practice long condemned by the Church.
     Personally, I don’t know this woman and I am not judging her character but I need not even attempt to look at her writings knowing their origin. To those who venerate her I would simply state this, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).” Why would our Lord give a message of great importance under the guise of a tradition long associated with the occult? It should be very obvious that there is another agenda at work here.
     This bait and switch tactic of the devil is nothing new to our tradition. The scriptures themselves speak in great detail of this work of the devil. For example, Acts 16:16-18 teaches the following:  “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (NIV)." The apostle Paul could have used this girl to spread his message of salvation for she was well known to have power in her community and could have directed many to accept Paul. However, the cost would have been grim because in turn Paul would sanction the occult.
     When it comes to supernatural experience the Fathers of the East were always overly cautious and for great reason. They knew that the weakness within us would readily accept anything and call it God. Saint John Climacus points this very truth out when he says, “When the demon of pride becomes established in his servants, then, appearing to them in a dream or in a vision in an image of an angel of light or a martyr, gives to them revelations of mysteries, and as if a gift of [spiritual] gifts, in order that these unfortunate ones, having succumbed to the temptation, completely lost their mind”. Many of our Eastern Fathers in addition to St. John always encouraged staying away from visions and the like. For them the path of humility was the best option for deepening ones relationship with God.
     According to our Fathers a passive and cautious attitude is what we must always carry with us in all matters of supernatural experience even if it’s not our own.In addition we should hold to the western saint John of the Cross' teaching that God has all he has to say in his Word. Anything that leads us away from authentic revelation must be condemned no matter the cost. The Holy Tradition that we have in our scriptures, Fathers and councils speak all what we really need to know to discover intimacy with God. We don’t need any kind of angel or extra biblical revelation to tell us that real Church unity will be achieved when we all learn to take up the cross and follow Christ.

1 comment:

  1. Regrettably, the magnificent apostle of Church unity Vladimir Soloviev also received all of his directives from automatic writing in Parisian seances, as well as some dubious visions of the divine Sophia that occurred while reading occult books in the British library.

    The Devil has two really good tools at his disposal - he can lie, or he can tell the truth and loudly advertise where it's coming from.