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The Orthodox Nationalist: The Jurisdiction of Truth – TON 051017


Matthew Raphael Johnson

Go to any Orthodox forum, especially one that is a part of the “True Orthodox” or anti-modernist movement. What you will find is anger, rancour and hatred. Why is this? It is because Orthodox people believe that you are defined by who your bishop is, or what jurisdiction you belong to. Brothers who believe identically in all respects will practically kill each other because of their jurisdictional difference.

Read any Orthodox church history of the 20th century and it will be all about what bishops do. It is like reading a history of the United States that speaks only of the Senate. Vladimir Moss, HOCNA, Suaiden and the other historians of the TOC all speak as if there are no people, only bishops. This gives the impression that the terms “church” and “synod” are synonymous. They are not.

During the Arian crisis few bishops existed in the east and slowly, the concept of “supplied jurisdiction” emerged. It stated that God loves you even if you do not have a bishop. Such a concept! It states – being less facetious – that priests abandoned by their erring bishop remain priests under God, not under a bishop. Why is this? It is because God is not a monster that is just dying to send as many people to hell as possible.

The main reason Rome and Orthodoxy are not in communion is the doctrine of “created grace” and this is the true “pan heresy.” There is no Roman Catholicism without it. It states that the hierarchy has “control” over grace and can provide it to who they will. You cannot have papal infallibility or indulgences without it. It states essentially that the church is identical with the clergy and that we are just passive recipients of their favour.

Its a lie.

However, 99% of the Orthodox people I know, without realizing it, believe the same. They say stupid things like “bishops rule the church” or that canons are “laws” in the same sense that the Pennsylvania penal code are laws.

In the modern world there is no truth, there is only power and the result is that the concept of law has become the notion that when the most powerful faction in a society tells you to do something, it’s best to do it to avoid prison. This is a sickness, not “law.” The truth is that a law is something that we all know. It is a part of being human. No one passes laws and no one enforces them. Men are weak, so we need to be reminded, but canon laws don't tell us what to do: they educate us on what to avoid most of the time.

Fr. John Whiteford once chided the Russian traditionalists by saying an anathema is not a “landmine” that goes off the minute it is offended. Yet, this is precisely the view of law that even the best of Orthodox people believe by default. Most canons are totally ignored, being relative to a specific time that is long past. The canons that are actually “enforced” for discipline are maybe 5% of the total. Most people use the Rudder for ammunition in debate, not for education. Canons are not laws. They are manifestations of justice using the weak and ambiguous vehicle of language. There is a reason why Christ refused to write anything down.

St. Athanasius, speaking about the Arian crisis, quips that “The body of the episcopate was unfaithful to it’s commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to it’s baptism.” Even more, St. Basil says: “Orthodox people keep silence, but every blaspheming tongue is let loose. Sacred things are profaned; those of the laity who are sound in faith avoid the places of worship as schools of impiety, and raise their hands in solitude, with groans and tears to the Lord in heaven.” (Letter 92). Then, later, “Matters have come to this pass: the people have left their houses of prayer, and assemble in deserts, a pitiable sight; women and children, old men, and men otherwise infirm, wretchedly faring in the open air, amid most profuse rains and snow-storms and winds and frosts of winter; and again in summer under a scorching sun. To this they submit, because they will have no part in the wicked Arian leaven.” (Letter 242).

Many more statements like this can be found. The church can function without bishops and has done so, but according to the present mentality, it would be impossible. The laity “fleeing into deserts” is a metaphor meaning that the common parishioners were bishop-less. Women and the elderly too were assisting in this process. It was God's way of maintaining the faith and all the graces needed. No one will burn forever because you have a bad bishop, this is a laughable error and we should not need patristic citations to tell us this.

God is our father, he wants the best for us and this is what it means when he “loves” us. In the current mind set, if your bishop is a heretic, then the church is destroyed. My Lord, what a weak God we have if this is true. Worse, if you want to leave, you have nowhere to go, since there are 100 TOC groups that have anathematized each other. These people are in no position to lecture to anyone and because of this, they have destroyed a viable alternative to modernism.

If the bishop is a heretic, God does not then say “my presence is now taken from everyone.” Bishops do not, thank the Heavens, have this power and the reason they do not is the doctrine of uncreated grace.

Grace is light, the presence of God on earth. It is logos, manifested as energy, in which all truth partakes. It cannot be written down in words unless it be understood that words are highly metaphorical. Christ never described heaven for this reason. Humans cannot express it because it is a part of the divine realm. We use Symbols to begin the process of our ascent. These are sacraments and rituals. A sacrament is not magic. Rather, it is a physical manifestation of what already exists: God's presence, His grace.

If we reject this, we must then believe that sacraments are magic tricks that only the initiated can perform. Nominalism argues that the ritual action is the grace entirely and this is because they are cut off from the heavens. It is the mind set of John Romanides, the arch heretic, who argued this many times. The rejection of the nominalist idea is what caused the “name worship” controversy decades ago and it is what animated the Old Belief centuries before.

My father was a very good man and he wanted the best for me. Not once did he come into my room and say “the handbook says I have to beat you now since you've misbehaved. Sorry, my hands are tied.” No. He was a free man who realized that we all misbehave. God is not subject to the bishops in Talmudic fashion. The Apostles cut and ran at the first sign of trouble. Women (and St. John) alone were at the cross. This is in Scripture precisely to give us a lesson about bishops (it also proves the Scriptures true, since they would never say this about themselves). They are no different from us and they have no special “powers” like the Severus Snapes that they would love us to believe they are.

The greatest of saints said that they were the worst of sinners. Were they lying? No. What they were saying is that our life in a corrupt world is inherently sinful. All action is self-regarding and hence a sin. Sin was built into the world, and is now defended and enforced by our modern one. If we are judged by our actions, then no one will be saved. Rather, we are judged by who we are: how we have organized our mind and life to best reflect the doctrines of Truth. Here, we do have the chance to be perfect. Thus, a saint can be the worst of sinners and he can also be perfect.

Remember: our postmodern world rejects meaning and truth as such and this is also the world that raised us. This is the world that hardwired our brains. Those of us who converted in our 20s and 30s were pagans for a generation, saturated in nothing but sin. After baptism, we were not transformed into angels. We went home and lived in the exact same way. The difference was that we knew that these were sins. We were Orthodox from the moment we made the decision. The sacrament merely manifested that in a very public way as a means of education and assurance. If we lose the fight in a moral sense it doesn't matter, for the fight is all that matters. If we won, then we'd be Pelagians (in the normal conception of the name).

The bishop does not rule and canons are not “laws.” Our spiritual life is usually wholly unrelated to the bishop who few of us even know. The church requires a structure and this is not a good thing, it is just a reminder than we are rotten people who constantly need threats to even perform the bare minimum of good acts. It functions to ensure that the priests do their job and the finances are well-organized and that is it. It is not an educational institution, anyone can teach us. They are not Platonic guardians.

The True Orthodox today have thousands of bishops because there are so many jurisdictions. There is nothing “sacred” about this and the quality continues to fall since there are so many. Most of the time, we have to teach them. Least of all, the synod is not the “bearer of grace” and, God knows, it is not identical to the “church.” A bishop is not a person, it is a conception of justice. It is the local synod, elected by the Orthodox people and it is never just one man. This is why the tradition is for a bishop to refer to himself as “we.” It is not the result of bad grammar. You cannot replace the papacy by multiplying it.

Any Orthodox person, accepting the ancient faith, is my brother. No one would voluntarily become Orthodox today. It is a difficult life with no earthly reward and jurisdiction as a spiritual determinant, is not reality, it exists only in your mind. It is an illusion and a demonic one at that.

Presented by Matt Johnson

The Orthodox Nationalist: The Jurisdiction of Truth – TON 051017


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