On Spiritual Deception – Fr. Dcn. Charles Joiner, South Carolina, USA



On Spiritual Deception

by Fr. Dcn. Charles Joiner


Deacon at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral,

Greenville, South Carolina Area, USA





The author of the Orthodox Way of Life blog, Fr. Dcn. Charles tells it like it is.

Having recently discovered that throughout much of my Christian life I was involved with “spiritual deception,” I find it necessary now to seek ways to fully understand and totally reject this error.

My deception began with a well meaning pastor at the United Methodist Church where I grew up. I asked him,

“Why are there so many different religions? How can we say that the Christian way the the best way?”

His answer was,

“There are many paths to God. Ours is the most direct and easiest path.”

He did not know how to answer this question from a true Christian perspective and advise me of the struggle that I would necessarily face. I now know that what he taught me was a serious deception. It is very clear now that the other paths will not lead to a God-oriented spiritual life and union with God. They only lead one to a life of self-satisfaction and greater pride.

Jesus Christ came after these early attempts to reach God which were inadequate and showed all mankind how to gain union with God. He showed us the need for extreme humility in our relationship with God. He showed us a path that involves purifying ourselves and continually struggling against many things, yet relying on God’s will. I discovered that the path He opened for us is not an easy path.

It is a difficult one along which we are easily deceived by seeking pleasures though various forms of meditation, yoga and others activities, taught by well meaning teachers from other eastern religions who have not discovered for themselves the way of Jesus Christ.

I now know this from experience, having experimented with Vedanta, a Hindu religion, Buddhism, and Eastern forms of meditation. Regrettably, I even led an effort to find the “universal principles” of all religions and then set up a organization (formally organized as a church under IRS rules, no less) to teach this to others. Oh, how easily we are deceived by psychic level religious experiences which only serve to boost our pride and our sense of self-sufficiency.

Through this experience, I learned that it is essential to recognize that we are engaged in spiritual warfare as Saint Paul so clearly tells us. In my youth I was never prepared for this battle by being properly instructed in the spiritual disciplines.

I didn’t appreciate the power of the Sacraments that Christ initiated for us to help us in this battle. Growing up Methodist, communion was symbolic. It was grape juice and a wafer symbolizing the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Powerless when compared to the actual Blood an Body of Jesus Christ that is offered in the Orthodox Church for remission of sins and eternal life in union with Him. I faced many such deceptions along the path. Fortunately, I have a very strong guardian angel that kept me on a path seeking God and who taught me the Jesus Prayer in the midst of these deceptions.

It was this prayer that protected me and led me back to Orthodoxy.

Seraphim Rose saw this attitude I experienced as one that permeates much of Christianity today. He wrote on this sad condition of “Christians” in his book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. Here is an excerpt.

“The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of today’s “Christians” is so all-pervading that it effectively seals them off from any understanding at all of spiritual life; and when such people do undertake “spiritual life,” it is only as another form of self-satisfaction. This can be seen quite clearly in the totally false religious ideal both of the “charismatic” movement and the various forms of “Christian meditation”: all of them promise (and give very quickly) an experience of “contentment” and “peace.” But this is not the Christian ideal at all, which if anything may be summed up as a fierce battle and struggle. The “contentment” and “peace” described in these 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. All these forms of “Christian meditation” operate solely on the psychic level and have nothing whatever in common with Christian spirituality. Christian spirituality is formed in the arduous struggle to acquire the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, which fully begins only with the dissolution of this temporal world, and the true Christian struggler never finds repose even in the foretastes of eternal blessedness which might be vouchsafed to him in this life; but the Eastern religions, to which the Kingdom of Heaven has not been revealed, strive only to acquire psychic states which begin and end in this life” (From Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Seraphim Rose, pp 187-188).

Some of my friends will think this is a bit harsh and it is not my intent to condemn those who sincerely seek union with Jesus Christ no matter what their form of Christianity is. But I can say without a doubt, that we can be deceived as I know I was.

For me, I found the fulness of the Truth in the Orthodox Church where the sacramental life is emphasized and practiced with regularity. It was in the context of the Orthodox Church that I found I could surrender and then seek, not my own way, but instead follow the way the Church sets out for all of us.


Video – From Glory to Glory: The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA





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From Glory to Glory:

The Journey of Fr. Anthony Salzman, GA, USA

Reason #1: the ever-changing church – Why I have converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church






Reason #1: the ever-changing church

Why I have converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church





This series of articles are from the “Becoming Orthodox” blog.

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting reasons why I have converted to the Orthodox Church. They are listed in no particular order. Some are big, important reasons; others may be small, wonderful but non-essential reasons. I hope they offer food for thought.

A few months ago I read an article in Christianity Today that highlighted a Christian movement in Mexico. It’s been awhile since I read the article and I can no longer recall the particulars, but one line really stood out: “How will the church in Mexico continue to change?” asked the columnist.

If the church is the pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15), then it should be unchanged since the day that it was founded by Jesus. Yet in any particular church group (save one) you will find numerous changes. Roman Catholics have a pretty long history, but they change the rules all the time. Protestantism is no different, being that it was borne out of a desire for change; a desire that certainly continues to this day when we have thousands of different denominations.

I’m disturbed by all of these changes. Truth doesn’t change. Neither should the Church.


My Journey Through Lutheranism and Calvary Chapel to Orthodoxy – Patrick Keenan, North Dakota, USA




My Journey Through Lutheranism and Calvary Chapel to Orthodoxy

by Patrick Keenan, North Dakota, USA





My parents brought me to Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church for Baptism as an infant. Somehow, someway a grace entered my life that has resided as long as I can remember. The quest as to who He is and how I should know him has been a lifelong pursuit.

It was an evening in 1966. Our modest North Dakota apartment housed my Mother, Father and myself. Dad was at the family Drive-In. Mom and I decided to watch NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies. It was a Rock Hudson Movie called ‘The Spiral Road’. Rock’s character was an Atheist Doctor in a south pacific Island who had fallen in love with a Christian nurse. She asked Rock why he didn’t believe in God, to which he replied something like:

‘because at one point I challenged God to show himself to me. I told God ‘If you are there- strike me down!’ He did nothing and that is why I do not believe.’

Well the next day, of course, was Sunday morning. Our Redeemer’s was a large Church with a huge wooden cross hanging on a rock wall behind the pulpit. As I recall, the Continue reading “My Journey Through Lutheranism and Calvary Chapel to Orthodoxy – Patrick Keenan, North Dakota, USA”

Michael Witcoff, ΗΠΑ: 3 λόγοι που με έκαναν να ενταχθώ στην Ανατολική Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία



Michael Witcoff, ΗΠΑ:  

3 λόγοι που με έκαναν να ενταχθώ στην Ανατολική Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία

Ο Αμερικάνος Michael Witcoff είναι Χριστιανός, πτυχιούχος Ψυχολογίας, copywriter, συγγραφέας και σύμβουλος μάρκετινγκ. Πιστεύει ότι η Δύση βιώνει την θεία οργή επειδή όλοι μας στρέψαμε την πλάτη μας στο Θεό και ότι η μόνη ελπίδα για σωτηρία είναι να ενωθούμε κάτω από ένα πιστό έμβλημα, όπως οι εχθροί μας έχουν ενωθεί κάτω από τα δικά τους.

* * *

Φίλοι και αδέλφια, μετά από αρκετό καιρό από την τελευταία φορά που έγραψα, αποφάσισα να ξαναγράψω στο Return Of Kings. Το θέμα μου είναι η Ανατολική Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία, κάτι για το οποίο ούτε καν είχα ακούσει από τότε που δημοσιεύθηκε το τελευταίο μου άρθρο εδώ. Αλλά από τότε το έψαξα πολύ και πρόσφατα αποφάσισα να αφήσω πίσω μου την Γουεσλεϊανική* ζωή μου και να γίνω πλήρες μέλος της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας. Θα θελα να μοιραστώ μαζί σας τους τρεις βασικότερους λόγους που με έκαναν να το πράξω.

1. Είναι η εκκλησία που ίδρυσε ο Χριστός

Κατά τη διάρκεια της ζωής μου ως Προτεστάντης, ποτέ δεν μου φάνηκε ότι υπήρξε μια χριστιανική ομολογία που η αφετηρία της έφθανε πίσω μέχρι την εποχή των αποστόλων.

Μόλις συνειδητοποίησα ότι υπήρχε μια αδιάσπαστη αλυσίδα παράδοσης που φτάνει πίσω σχεδόν 2.000 χρόνια, άρχισα να θέτω ένα εντελώς νέο είδος ερώτησης. Τι δίδασκαν; Πώς λάτρευαν; Τι πίστευαν; Πώς αυτά μεταδόθηκαν μέσα από τους αιώνες;

Πάντα πίστευα πως, ό, τι κι αν προσπαθείς να κάνεις στη ζωή, είναι συνήθως καλύτερο να πηγαίνεις κατευθείαν στις πρώτες πηγές παρά να τηρείς νεότερες ερμηνείες. Είναι εξίσου αληθινό με τον Χριστιανισμό, όπως είναι και με το Continue reading “Michael Witcoff, ΗΠΑ: 3 λόγοι που με έκαναν να ενταχθώ στην Ανατολική Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία”

The conversion of a fanatical Jew woman who wanted to kill Elder Ephraim of Arizona, USA





The conversion of a fanatical Jew woman

who wanted to kill Elder Ephraim of Arizona, USA

Everyone knows the high spiritual status of Elder Ephraim of Arizona, USA. A fanatical Jew woman wanted to do evil to the Elder years ago. So, dressed as a pious Christian with long clothes and headcovering, she went to see the Elder. His subordinates told her she could not see him and tried other days. After days we allowed her to see him. She had hidden a knife in her clothes to kill him, and she was suddenly surprised when she saw him standing upright and cried Elder! She saw him flying in the air at a poached stand! She tells her, drop the knife and I’ll come down to talk. The monastery guards came in and disarmed her. Finally the woman repented and believed and was baptized. The Holiness of the Elder appeared once again.



Spiritual Trips in Holy Mountain and Holy Land

OCA – Find an Orthodox Parish in USA, Canada & Mexico






OCA – Find an Orthodox Parish in USA, Canada & Mexico

The parish is a local community of the Church having at its head a duly appointed priest and consisting of Orthodox Christians who live in accordance with the teachings of the Orthodox Church, comply with the discipline and rules of the Church, and regularly support their parish. Being subordinate to the Diocesan Authority, it is a component part of the Diocese.