Thursday, 8 September 2011

God’s place in a humanist society (19) [Locul lui Dumnezeu într-o societate umanistă]

I assume that it’s no surprise to any constant reader of this blog that, from a religious point of view, I saw Brighton as being a sort of ‘spiritual flea market’ – all choices available for the weirdest of ‘consumers’ (see here or here).

One such choice is this so-called Religious Society of Friends, a self-proclaimed Christian (?!) movement, whose members are better known as Quakers.

I haven’t personally met any believer, and even if I had done so, I should refrain from judging that person. Which won’t prevent me from dimissing this heresy, made up of a concoction of beliefs as far from Christ’s message as any other ‘man-made’ religions.

Fed up with the disarray and countless moral flaws within the Church of England (CoE), as well as with the brutality of the English Civil War in Oliver Cromwell’s troubled times, these ‘friends’ came up with some simple and appealing ideas.

Humans need no priest between them and the Lord, no ordained and paid clergy, neither an ‘established Church’, the founder of the sect (George Fox) said.

Guided by ‘inner voices’ (Orthodox Holy Fathers give a precise diagnosis reagarding whose voices are these), Fox claimed that, instead of ‘organised religion’, what matters is the ‘inner light’ that believers in Christ can find in themselves.

They may speak on His behalf, however, they surely don’t know Christ, as they don’t revere – like most Protestant denominations – the Mother of God (Theotokos) whose birth we are celebrating today.

There’s no proper understanding of Salvation without understanding the Theotokos’ unique role in God’s plans. No one can be ‘attracted’ to Christ and remain ‘indifferent’ to His Mother.

Anyway, I could’t have anything against these people – only the Lord will judge each of us. At least these ‘friends’ are pacifists (refusing to take arms and swear oaths), their ‘services’ consist of mostly silent meetings, and some of their ancestors were victims of cruel acts perpetrated by other self-entitled Christians.

To the extent they are living by their convictions (although there is no Quaker ‘creed’ at all; there are only some books used for guidance) , they seem to be harmless, unlike many aggressive sects.

What I find worthy of considerations are the troubled times that would determine George Fox to channel his frustrations towards creating this sect.

When Fox began preaching (1647), there had been 581 years since 1066 (Norman Invasion of England), and 593 since the Great Schism. In its death throes today, the CoE was already in a grave condition back then.

The Church of England could have been shredded to pieces – because of the many English Dissenters – had it not been for the Civil War, for Cromwell’s iron grip on power, and for the fact that most of these sects would eventually move (forcibly or by their choice) to the New World.

Not that I’d agree with the harsh methods used against them, but we must acknowledge the fact that, some 350 years ago, English Dissenters could be easily silenced by the state religion.

Today, any dissenter within the CoE would be granted protection by the secular and politically correct state. It often happens that this ‘church’ changes for the sake of the dissenter.

In the meantime, from the outside of this ailing organisation, Anglicans in the UK are steadily being out numbered by Muslims, while all religious people would be soon a minority in a country where irreligiousness is valued positively, and religion is frowned upon.

Social and political turmoil, festering in a swamp of consumerism, make up the ideal habitat of false prophets like George Fox.

Most people today prefer to dive deeper into the mire, using these false prophets as evidence for their “there’s-no-God-but-my-own-will” creed. Few take comfort in the deceitful peace and meanings of sects, which keep mushrooming like in 17 century England.

Even fewer throw themselves into the arms of the Mother of God, knowing what path (the Royal Path of Orthodoxy) to take towards her.

As long as even our Saviour nestled in her arms, that should be the safest place to put one’s soul in these mad times. 
[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Mihai said...


I think you've missed a couple of url links in the first paragraph.

MunteanUK said...

Thank you for drawing my attention!

What about the article itself? Is it so good or so bad that it's not worth any comment? :-)

Mihai said...

The article is good, that's for sure. The fact that there are no comments (yet) could mean the article is too good, so that it needs no additions :-)

I wouldn't know too much about the various protestant sects in the UK.

I remember that in downtown Birmingham, I was approached by a young girl who was probably part of a such self-proclaimed Christian movement and was distributing flyers. Something about Bible studies. She also asked me if I believe in God, and my affirmative answer made a smile to appear on her face, which I took as a sign of goodwill.

I believe they were well intentioned (the girl was part of a larger group of young people) and I hope God will find a way to bring them to His Church, the Orthodox Church. Maybe (or I would say Certainly) it was not an accident that Father Sophrony Sakharov founded the Orthodox Monastery of Saint John the Baptist on British soil.

MunteanUK said...

Dear Mihai,

Irrespective of what I am writing against heretical beliefs - because THE TRUTH HAS TO BE TOLD - I can also happen to be pleasantly impressed by some people of other denominations.

God willing, maybe one day I will write about my short but pleasant interaction with members of an organisation called University of Sussex Christian Union:

No matter how 'impressed' I can be - as Orthodox Christians we shouldn't guide our lives based on mere impressions (even good ones), should we? - this won't prevent me from writing against so-called 'churches' who are far from the One Church of Christ.

On the other hand, this doesn't mean that, when I meet someone from another Christian denomination, I start a diatribe and 'stick' my 'true faith' into that person's eyes.

That would be conterproductive (for Orthodoxy) and disturbing (for all others, believers or atheists) as is the propaganda of many Jehova's Witnesses and Mormons :-(

A blog is a 'tribune', a forum, and it also is my 'private property' (in theory, as we are all 'owned' by Google when we use their platforms) - where I write what I like, how I like it.

But 'public space' is not ours, and it's useless to 'invade' it with some kind of 'pro-Orthodox' discourse.

Not that our faith shouldn't be 'seen'; yet it should be noted by our behaviour. The Lord needs no 'propagandists'; I guess He'd rather have true followers who preach Him by their behaviour.

From this perspective, it is very likely that monasteries like the one you mentioned simply 'attract' those in search of Christ's true Church.

The same happens in Scotland, despite no 'programatic' missionary efforts. Note what I wrote in the penultimate paragraph of this post:

These days of large scale apostasy may be far from the times when entire nations converted, however, individuals may still find Christ till the end of time.

We, Orthodox believers, could give Christ a 'helping hand' at saving others, if we behaved in a manner that made our lives 'attractive' to others.

Unfortunately, not only that we are far from the examples of cohesion and fraternity within Neoprotestant communities...

Sadder still, we often behave worse than pagans :-(

Gregor said...

A very interesting post Bogdan. I guess my own personal view is that the chaos created by the War of the Three Kingdoms was more a VEIL than a factor.

All the weird masonic beliefs came to the fore at that time as well as strange sects like Quakerism. Cromwell's forces built strange geomatric structures and no doubt they inspired the Jacobin Revolution that happened later on.

That's not to deny that heresies like Quakerism don't attract a lot of good people; no doubt that's the greatest tragedy in them.

MunteanUK said...

Dear Gregor,

Since you are British + historian by profession, I should agree with you :-)

Given the troubled 16th century in the British Isles (English and Scottish Reformation), and the even more chaotic 17th century, it's very likely that the numerous civil wars could have been, along with the heresies, must have had deeper roots.

I guess you noted that I don't see these two centuries as 'coming out of the blue' - they surely are the result of the fall of Orthodoxy in the first century of the 2nd millennium after Christ (1054, 1066)...


I also think that heresies attract many good people who are in search of the Truth, and it's not hard for these organisations to do so.

Compared to the nihilism of the mainstream society, to the various absurd aspects of consumerism and hedonism, to the inequities in politics etc, their messages are truly 'appealing', aren't they?

By God's grace, every now and then, some people - who are genuinely seeking for Christ - break free of the trap of sects...