Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The heresy of the "Social Gospel"

Editorial Note: I want to thank everyone for chiming in on this article. I'm aware it's of controversial origins and content. What I had hoped to highlight was both the seemingly credible look of the website (well put together, official sounding name, etc.) and the material itself, which while not without its problems does bring up valid points. Please do continue to discuss the website's merits. It was not, until very recently, a website I was familiar with at all.


(Orthodox Australia) - This heresy was well captured and presented in the writings of Blessed Seraphim Rose and Herman Podmoshenski of Platina Monastery, the spiritual offspring of the Elders from Optina monastery. As some may know, but perhaps most have not learned yet, parts of the written work of these two saintly fathers were censored, books published were edited in later editions, paragraphs removed, not to mention the fierce battle to discredit them both, the suspicious death at only 47 years of Father Seraphim after a very short and sudden affliction, the slanderous accusations against Father Herman that were not proven in court etc. After all it is only to be expected that they had to suffer for the truth just like their predecessors, and i would like to mention here the numerous false accusations their spiritual Father Saint John Maximovic had to endure as well. After all, false accusations is what Christ had to endure Himself, and since the servant is never greater than the Master, all those in the truth must expect them.

One of the most important works of these two Fathers, and one of the least known for the obvious reasons was the “Orthodox Survival Course” which was only published in recent years on the above mentioned website.

For a number of years, in the 70s, during summer, many pilgrims would come from around the world to hear and see what the news of started to spread quickly. This course that was being held at the Platina Monastery was drawing in many pilgrims, and thousands converted to Orthodoxy just by understanding the truth being presented to them. Many were also ordained priests.

Based on this hidden treasure and some of the letters of these fathers that had also not been known to the world for the same reasons, the Orthodox mission Orthodox Australia tried to put together this spiritual heritage with recent events and developments in the social and political realms in the world in an attempt to bring to light a world view that would make sense in an Orthodox context .

I will try to outline some of the main ideas.

The heresy of “Social Gospel” is mainly based on the premise that the mission of the Church is not mainly to preach to the world the kingdom of God that is to come, but to become an active participant in the effort to make the world a “better place”, a place where all poverty, lawlessness, injustice, disease, suffering, etc are eradicated and the humanity can, finally, get to live in a world rid of all these afflictions, in other words the sort of “paradise on Earth”, achieving the very same goals of the utopic humanist ideologies and ideals...
Complete article here.

25 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I feel this is a bit unfair, Social Gospel is a theological movement simply about living Christs Word of selling all and following Christ, attempting to replicate the society found in Acts and following the example of the Cappadocian fathers. Not to mention that the church has made saints of many contemporaries that preach this like St Elizabeth of Russia, St Silouan or St. Mary of Paris. (or St Basil) It also assumes that the Church made political statements by its life, such as the freely distributing bread, a industry and distribution strictly controlled by the State. At the basis is a monastic poverty but lived in the world, something early monastics were attempting to replicate but felt they couldnt in a "Christian" society. All these things are to find Christ, not obtain a Utopian, I think even catholic theologians would assent that the poor are always with us And it is about Christ, both the Philokalia and Way of Pilgrim quote leaving all to follow Christ and taking empathy with fellow mans plight, let alone actively serving the fellow man.

    The article seems to be criticizing a sub-movements that claim to follow the social gospel? A small subset that preach communist ideals while harshly criticizing the dictatorship masquerading as communism? (gosh living with all things in common) A subset that emphasize public acts of faith (what about the Stylites? Or Holy Fools?) Though a deserved criticism the Humanistic subset that focuses solely on Earthly ministry with little belief in God's work.

    Is it really suffering in the world of innocents that causes salvation? So my wealth is God's blessing but the homeless guy is living a punishment for his personal salvation? Why so much in the psalms on this? Why did the early church bother taking care of the poor? Why does Christ care about wealth distribution? I would present that maybe the homeless man is there for my salvation... Just a thought

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    1. "...Social Gospel is a theological movement simply about living Christs Word of selling all and following Christ, attempting to replicate the society found in Acts and following the example of the Cappadocian fathers..."

      This is not what the Protestant "social gospel" movement is at all. It is a historic and particular debate within Protestantism and sometimes carried forward into ones Orthodox life. It rests on erroneous ideas about God, man, and the Gospel. Reader Michael, you should read up on it a bit before conflating it with Orthodoxy...

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  3. Not that it's a bad thing for Christians to work to make the world a “better place”, a place where poverty, lawlessness, injustice, disease, suffering, etc. is diminished. No one thought smallpox or polio would or could have been eradicated, for instance; no one thought universal healthcare was possible, or unemployment insurance, etc. The problem is making a god of these good things (or of making the opposite mistake regarding such evils.)

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  4. I wouldn't get too concerned about this article. If you read the whole thing it talks about a small group of men (Jews.? Masons? Illuminati?) who control the world. It takes a gratuitous swipe at St Francis of Assisi showing zero knowedge of the culture, times lietrature and spirituality of when this blessed man lived. It whitewashes Gleb Podmoshenski by stating he was never convicted by a court......funny about that neither were countless Catholic clerics who preyed on the vulnerable.....and we all know the reasons why....it hints at foul play in the death of Fr Seraphim Rose but fails to mention the longstanding connection between Podmoshenski and the convicted sex offender Pangratios Vrionis.....neither does it mention the questionable behaviour of Fr Damascene Christensen in airbrushing and rewriting his massive volume on Fr Seraphim which due to Fr Damascene's sitz im leben demanded a reworking of Podmoshenski's fantasies about Fr Seraphim. A quick look at the Orthodox Australia website shows a certain Fr Basil Willow who claims to be a priest of the Antiochian Orthodox church in Australia, no such priest exists. All in all a typical Platinaesque rehash of conspiracy theorists addicted to the now dead Podmoshenski whose mantle they claim to bear........loads of letters from Podmoshenski and Rose as if they are scripture......in short a Podmoshenski cult that has no place in the Church.

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  5. Liberals have profaned the word "justice" by incorporating it into their "social justice" movement. A better term for them would be "social fairness", because justice is from God while "fairness" is from the Devil.

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  6. Now compare that extreme and at times fanatical writing with that of the Russian Orthodox Church's basis for social concept from the year 2000.

    https://mospat.ru/en/documents/social-concepts/

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  7. Also I would be highly skeptical of the motives of this Orthodox Australia website. It is NOT an official website of any Orthodox Church, it is an extreme right wing blog. Some of the other "articles" on the site and horrifying. The article posted to ByzTex is unsigned. It also appears NO WHERE on the official website of the Antiochian Orthodox Church of Australia and is not among the listed articles from the Archbishop. This is actually pretty irresponsible that this website would republish from such an extreme website.

    Real articles from the Archbishop:

    http://www.antiochianarch.org.au/Archbishops-Articles.aspx

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  8. How are the other articles horrible? Do they lie?

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    1. These other writings reference extreme websites like zero hedge and Alex Jones' info wars. Hardly credible. Then the entire climate change section of the website is filled with insane rhetoric. Who runs that site? There's no name attributed to any of the crazy things written on it.

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    2. And also, I would be highly skeptical of left wing and ultra progressive websites masquerading as Orthodox as well.

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  9. One of my favourites ... another "extreme right" view ...

    http://orthodoxaustralia.org/2015/07/28/the-game-theory/

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    1. With respect the article is nonsensical. It is the same old conspiracy theory this time without the usual suspects mentioned, Jews Masons Illuminati........What on earth does any of this have to do with Orthodoxy?

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  10. Well said Alex. It is an extremist right wing website with a person masquerading under the name of Fr Basil Willow. The Antiochian Church does not list this man under their clergy names. I am surprised that this vlog which I find an e cellent news source would publish such arrant nonsense.

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  11. Truth is hard to tell without making references to real world events. People need to protect themselves for obvious reasons. If you were to call things by their name, would you not do that yourselves?

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  12. And BTW, Fr Basil is not responsible for the contents ... just his sermons are relevant.

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    1. Hi Orthodox views. Your website is virtually identical to Orthodox Australia's site. Are you the same people? Is "Fr Basil Willow" actually Fr Vladimir Ivlenkov?

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  13. This sounds a bit sketchy to me and the tone is almost hysterical. After perusing the website I have to agree with some of the other comments above, it seems to promote fringe ideas and conspiracy theories. I'd take anything posted there with a large dose of salt.

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  14. The banner at the top of the site makes it look like an official website of the Antiochian Archdiocese of Australia, which is misleading. Also, a quick Google of "Basil Willow" generated no hits outside his website and this blog.

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    1. I am reliably informed that "Fr Basil Willow" is actually a priest of the Antiochian Orthodox church namec Fr Vladimir Ivlenkov.....go figure ............

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    2. Willow in Russian is iva, so iva => Ivlenkov. Though I don't know why he is posting under a pseudonym.

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  15. Thanks Josephus for your note. I would like to know which material on the website brings up valid points. The website is extremist and elitist in it's attitudes. Couple that with it's hagiographical view of Gleb Podmoshenski and it all adds up to being useless. The testimonies of those of Podmoshenski's victims who have gone public give a true picture of the man. No amount of hiding behind "never convicted in court" can hide the damage he did. I have observed him at close range years back, he was a manipulative and predatory demagogue. His histrionic performances may have fooled some but not all. His legacy is divisiveness, judgmental spirit and apocalyptic frenzy whipped up by very selective use of the fathers and promotion of weird "elders"....there was a reason why he was not reconciled to the church at the time his monastery joined the Serbs. His devotees say it was because he chose the hermit life........(without a bishop) maybe his appalling and unpunished actions were even too much for the Serbian church.........


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  16. Father Herman Podmoshensky

    Aliases:
    Gleb Podmoshensky
    Sanctioned
    Podmoshensky (1991)
    Podmoshensky (1991)
    Letter to Serbian Bishop re: Podmoshensky
    Letter from Podmoshensky to Samuel David Allen
    Father Herman Podmoshensky was at one time a priest-monk in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). He, along with Father Seraphim Rose, founded the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, a monastic group. Podmoshensky was the abbot of the brotherhood’s monastery in Platina, St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, until 2000.

    After the death of Rose in 1982, Podmoshensky was accused of serious moral offenses, which Pokrov.org has heard from quite a few different sources was sexual misconduct with young men, some of whom were below the age of majority. He was suspended from the priesthood in 1984 pending the outcome of ROCOR’s investigation into these allegations.

    However, Podmoshensky continued to serve as a clergyman. ROCOR defrocked him for disobedience in 1988, without issuing a decision on the underlying moral charges.

    Podmoshensky, who held title to the monastery property, then aligned himself with the Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis, a vagante jurisdiction. The majority of the brotherhood remained with ROCOR and did not follow him into Vasiloupolis. Two exceptions were Father Gerasim Eliel and Father Damascene Christensen.

    The Holy Order of MANS (HOOM) also joined Vasiloupolis in 1988. Their decision to join this vagante jurisdication instead of entering canonical Orthodoxy was in part due to their adoption of Podmoshensky as a spiritual leader. According to “The Odyssey of a New Religion” by Phillip Charles Lucas, the Order men who became Vasiloupolis clergy were trained by the Platina abbot and 2 Vasiloupolis bishops, Benedict Greene and Pangratios Vrionis.

    In 1990, Podmoshensky invited Samuel David Allen to visit Platina to see if he had a vocation to become a member of the brotherhood. Allen had joined HOOM in the late sixties and retained his ties to that group through 2 convictions and 1 parole revocation for child sexual abuse. Podmoshensky wrote, “Yes. I agree wholeheartedly with Br. David Finkelstein about the monastic way, that’s the only way for people like us.” (A typed transcript of the handwritten letter is available here.)

    According to Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen of the Orthodox Church in America, Podmoshensky stepped down as the abbot of Platina in 2000 so that the brotherhood could rejoin the canonical Orthodox Church. However, another source indicates that Podmoshensky was forced to step down because of allegations of sexual misconduct, including an assault on one young man who may have been a minor at the time of the abuse.

    The St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood became a part of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Early sources said that Podmoshensky was received as a “simple monk,” since the Serbs recognized that he had been defrocked by ROCOR. However, Serbian sources disagreed, denying that he was included in this reception.

    In 2009 a video of Podmoshensky was published on youtube. While the video has since been removed, Pokrov.org has learned that the video was of recent vintage, and in it Podmoshensky stated that he had been asked to make some comments to the young.

    On July 5, 2011, ROCOR bishop George Schaefer paid a visit to the Platina monastery. While at the facility, Schaefer paid a visit to Podmoshensky.

    Podmoshensky died on June 3, 2014.

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  17. The above was taken from Pokrov.org if that doesn't give cause fot serious concern I don't know what would. I have known the Podmoshenski cultists for 30 years they are at best very sadly misguided.

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  18. We should discuss the merits or demerits of a position regardless of where it originated.

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