Missionary Conversations with Protestant Sectarians
by Rev. Kyril Zaits
New Sarov Press Edition 1993
Printed with the blessing
His Grace Bishop HILARION
Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia
Editorial Notation: We present this to you who have had, or are having, trouble explaining the difference between the non-Orthodox, non-Catholic and Protestant denominations.
The "Anglican Orthodox" sometimes called "Orthodox Anglicans" are, for many of them, very Orthodox in faith and use the Liturgy approved by St. Tikhon which is often referred to as the "Tikhon Liturgy". We praise them, We bless them and We pray for them. But many "Anglicans" outside of the Orthodox Anglican and Catholic jurisdictions are not truly Orthodox or Catholic in spirit and truth. The same can also be said of many who claim they are "Orthodox" or even "Catholic". Often times, we have found that those who are very "Orthodox" are the "Ethnic" who view anyone else outside of the church unless they are under a Patriarch, even though a special dispensation was given by decree. As to those who are often extremely "Catholic" in liturgical practices, etc. are those who predominantly belong to the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church which is based in the roots of Orthodoxy (the faith). Then, you have another breed of "Orthodox" "Catholics" who are so "ultra" in their claims of practice that they go out of their way to besmirch, by name and jurisdiction, those whom they are opposed to and they go to the extremes of airing dirty laundry as a means, they think and hope, will praise them in the eyes of mankind. There is one last "breed" of "Orthodox Catholic Christians" who admit their errors, not afraid to seek repentance and forgiveness openly and publicly, who stand firm for the pillars of the faith including the pillar which affirms their faith by action... that being the Seals of the Confessional.
As for the many who are Protestant in faith and praxis, this article may help in delineating those who hold to heretical teachings, theologies and practices that were never, ever, a part of the true Christian Church no matter how much they may hold to their belief with a sincerity of faith. Those pastors or ministers of their churches are, for many of them, carpet baggers whose agendas are more political and pocket-book than having a desire to learn truth from error. They use their halls of worship as entertainment centers for such draw people in who are lazy with their faith. They draw upon politicians to draw on those whose emotional balance for a particular issue is central to whether or not they belong to the right church.
Cafeteria Christianity is, for most of them, what Protestantism has become.
One understanding that is so important comes forth, amongst other understandings:
WHO MAY TEACH IN THE CHURCH
Mt. 28:19-20; Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28; Bom. 10:15; 2 Tim. 1:11; 2:2; Heb. 5:4.
(Those who may teach in the Church are: The apostles and their successors; only those set aside by Christ Himself — those who are ordained; those who are sent by the Church; those especially appointed and called by Christ, through His Church and in His Church. But no one may appropriate the position for himself as some have done and others do).
Therefore, read all of the article, for it is very lengthy... and use it appropriately and properly. But, remember, there are some things in this article that could very easily be applied to some of our Orthodox Catholic and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters not so much as being "Protestant" as they can be applied to the manner with which some clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Catholic jurisdictions have opted for a 'politically correct' and 'entertainment' approach' as a majority of Protestantism does, instead of what might be called the 'struggle' approach for things eternal ...
"If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch that is withered" (Jn. 15:6).
''Yes!" exclaimed the Baptist sectarian, "We are on the Vine, like branches."
"When did you graft yourselves to this Vine ?"
"When we began to believe. Christ Himself said: 'Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.' [Jn. 3:36] We believe and nothing more is demanded of us. Where the Lord is, we also will be. Did He not say, 'Where I am my servant will also be there ?'" [Jn. 12:26]
"But you heard," replied Father Kyril, "what the Apostle says, that even demons believe and confess Christ as the Son of God. Remember how those possessed cried out: 'What are you to us, Jesus, Son of God!' [Mt. 8:29] And, of course, both faith and confession are not sufficient for salvation for them.
"Let us clarify the Lord's words about the Vine and branches. "Take a look at this big tree, which is probably at least a hundred years old. How many green branches there are on it. How many sap-filled leaves. As long as the branch is on the tree, it is alive, it is full of life-giving sap, for it receives this vital fluid from the tree.
"If, however, a branch or a leaf tears away from the tree, it perishes. At first such a branch will remain green, but with each passing hour this greenness will fade, the leaves will curl, fall off and death will overcome the branch; it will dry up and rot.
"The same rays of sun heat this torn branch as heat the tree; both are watered by the same rain. Nevertheless, there is already no life in the branch which has torn away. This is what it means to tear away from the Vine."
"But this does not mean us," shouted the Baptist. "We have not torn away from the tree. Just as we once believed in Jesus Christ, so we believe now!"
"It is not enough to believe. Faith alone in Christ does not yet give the right to assert that you are on the Vine.
"Here on the ground is a little green branch. Pass me that little branch, son.
"You see, the little branch is still altogether green, just as those on the tree. Even this branch could have said: 'I am alive; the sap of the tree is in me. I will definitely always be green and blossom in blessed happiness with the tree!' Yet we know that its destruction is unavoidable. Is it not necessary to say the same about all the preachers of new faiths, about all sectarians? They, like this little branch, cry: 'We are green, we are with Christ, we are saved, we are inhabitants of paradise, etc... ' But, alas! They are not on the Vine, they are not members of Christ's Body."
"Allow me," the sectarian interrupted. "We say about ourselves what God's word says. Yes, we are saved! We know, just as you yourself read, that there is no other name given whereby we must be saved. Read in the Epistle to the Romans: ' ... Christ died for us ... being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved. ..' [Km. 5:8-9]; 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleansed us from every sin’ [l Jn. 1:7]. We strongly believe this and 'having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ [Rm. 5:1]
"Listen to still more. The Lord Himself said, ' ... So that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have life everlasting" [Jn. 3:15-16], and the Apostle clearly says: 'You are saved by grace through faith..."[Eph. 2:8].
"You see, we are not branches which have been torn from the tree; we are on the Vine because we believe. Listen also, all you who have gathered here. Do not fear to believe in Christ. He who believes in Christ is saved, is on the Vine, is with Christ".
"And the demons which, according to the Holy Scriptures, also believe and confess Christ, are they also with Christ?" Father Kyril asked. "The evil spirit clearly said: 'I know Jesus. . ."[Acts 19:15] The evil spirit also confesses that salvation is through Jesus Christ. Remember when the apostles preached in Philippi, the evil spirit which possessed the servant-woman said: 'These men are the servants of the most high God, who have come to show us the way to salvation" [Acts 16:17] .
"The demons know that people are redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ, they believe this with fear and trembling; but what benefit do they derive from their faith'( — None. Why ? Because faith alone will not suffice; alone it will not unify one with Christ. Besides faith, something else is necessary. It is necessary to be in Christ's Church. It is necessary to be a member of this Church for salvation."
"So how would you have it — that these stones and wood are the Church?" exclaimed the sectarian. "The word of God clearly says: ''Where two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ, there is the Church." [Mt. 18:20] And here we already have up to ten persons, believers, at present re-born. We are the Church; but for you, the Church is a building of stone or brick with bells and a cross on top.
"Did you not say today, 'The meeting will be held near the church.'? Did not these people say today, 'Let us go to the church.'? You have forgotten that we ourselves are the church, as the Apostle says: 'do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?"[1 Cor. 3:16]"
"Stop!" said Father Kyril sternly. "I don't know whether you have consciously or unconsciously swerved off the subject. Right now our conversation is not about temples. I said that for salvation it is necessary to be a member of Christ's Church, that is, to be a member of that visible community of believers which Christ founded.
"Pious listeners, I think that you understand that when I speak of Christ's Church, we are not speaking of a building of stone or wood, and we are not speaking about the temple."
"We understand, father, " said one of the faithful. "This sectarian, is only saying these things intentionally in order to confuse the matter."
"That is true; but to speak only in order to confuse the matter is both sinful and shameful," continued Father Kyril, turning to the Baptist. "You are taking upon yourself an especially heavy sin, young preacher. There is no doubt that you understand perfectly well what our conversation is about, but you are being evasive in order to lead these good and simple people into error. I can imagine what you say at your gatherings to these simple-souled believers; on what a destructive path you are seeking to lead them."
"The ears grow weary, father, from the sacrilege that he speaks," called out some person, evidently zealous in the Faith. "He seeks to destroy everything, raving that neither priests nor the Lord's House are necessary. He demands that ikons and even the Cross of Christ be thrown out. He denies the Theotokos, the angels and the saints —throw everything out! Nor does he say it simply, but with mockery and cursing."
"Then why do you go and listen to this sacrilege?" asked Father Kyril.
"We do not know why ourselves," the zealot replied. "Some kind of demon encourages: 'go and listen!' One goes and listens to all this; one becomes angry, inflamed, but you can't leave. It is exactly as if some alien power is holding you there. One feels that there is something unclean in all this. Is this not the activity of Antichrist?"
"Your guesses are correct and in agreement with God's word. All these preachers of new faiths are doing great evil; they are striving to destroy Christ's Church and to prepare people for the acceptance of Antichrist. Therefore, brethren, be careful and prudent. Listen to what the Holy Apostle John says: 'Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try these spirits to ascertain if they are of God: because many false prophets have gone out into the world" [1Jn. 4:1].
"And here we are scrutinizing this preacher; what sort of spirit has appeared amongst us — is he from God? No, it is evident that he belongs to the number of false prophets. Since he has torn away from the tree — from Christ, since he does not belong to the Church, then, of course, the spirit of God is not in him. That he speaks well, that he sings well, together with the young women who have come with him, that he calls himself holy — this does not mean that he is sent by God.
"The Apostle Paul warns: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ; but do not wonder at this, for Satan himself takes on the appearance of an angel of light...' [Cor. 11:13-14]
"Watch out for yourselves, Orthodox Christians! Danger is near if Satan himself takes on the appearance of an angel of light. Do not follow every spirit, but remain firm in Orthodoxy. Listen to the Apostle who says: 'Do those things which you have learned, received, heard and seen in me and the God of peace will be with you' [Phil. 4:9].
"When anyone appears before you with any kind of new teaching, ask of him first of all: does he belong to the Holy Church? Who sent him to preach ? Does he love holy Orthodoxy? The Apostle, in another place, warns, 'Beware of the workers of evil' " [Phil. 3:2].
"We are not workers of evil!" the sectarian cried out frantically. "I have already said that we believe in Christ. I have already said that we compose the Church of Christ. Christ Himself said that, 'Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am there amongst them', and where Christ is there is the Church."
Concerning your statement that two or three gathered together compose the Church," replied Father Kyril, "I shall have something to say about this later. Now, however, let us clarify still further, in detail, the teaching of God's word concerning the Church.
"First of all, I shall tell you something terrible; terrible but correct: Not only are you not with Christ, but you are actually against Christ, because you are seeking to tear believers away from the Church. You seek to destroy the unity of the faith. Here is what the Lord says about you Protestants: 'He that is not with Me is against Me and he that does not gather with me scatters abroad' [Mt. 12:30].
"And never have any people, while calling upon one Name, been more scattered abroad than you Protestants. What kind of unity of faitb do you have, tearing at one another, refusing to accept the baptisms of one another, one sect dividing into another, which in turn re-divides, preaching hatred from the pulpit, one for another.
"Now let us continue our explanations about the Church, on the basis of the Holy Scripture.
"First let us sing the prayer, 'O Lord, save Thy people.' "
Let us read from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, in the twentieth chapter, from the twelfth verse: 'Just as the body is one and has many organs, all the organs together, while many, compose one body: just so is Christ. We were all baptised by one Spirit into one body ... we have all been made to drink into one Spirit.'[1 Cor. 12:12-13].
"Here the Apostle compares the society of true believers, those saved, with the human body. The body of man is composed of many various organs — arms, legs, eyes, etc. Each of these organs, so long as they are not separated from the body, are alive and each one fulfils its function.
"Cut off and separate, for example, an arm or a leg from the whole organism — and then what ? It not only loses life, but begins to decay, becoming an object which arouses repulsion, spreading around itself an odour which is harmful to health. It is dangerous even to touch it because it is possible to become infected and die from it.
"Why does the Apostle speak thus? He explains later what this comparison is for. He says: 'And you are Christ's Body, each individually, you are members.' [1 Cor, 12:27].
"So we all are members of Christ's Body. We are near and beloved to Christ. As each member of our body is fed with vital strength from our body, so we live by that abundant strength which we receive from Christ.
"But perhaps you do not comprehend — we are members of what Body of Christ? We know of Christ's Body which was covered with wounds, suffered for us and was nailed to the Cross; that body with which Christ later ascended to heaven. Does the Apostle speak of Matthew? We read: 'Where two or three are gathered in My Name,' Is this the Body of Christ? No, we cannot become members of this body. This body the Lord gives us in the Holy Communion: 'take, eat — this is My Body,' 'He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life.' [Jn. 6:54 (cf. 66)]
"Then, about which Body of Christ does the Apostle speak, declaring that we must belong to it as organs in order to be saved ? God's word gives you the answer to this question. Opening the Epistle to the Ephesians we read: 'That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ... and has put all things under His feet and appointed Him as head over all things pertaining to the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.' [Eph. 1:22-23]
"And so Christ is the Head of the Church and the Church is His Body. We must be members of this Body of Christ, i.e., the Church, in order to be saved. Remember we read, 'and you are Christ's Body, each individually, you are members (organs).'[1 Cor. 12:27] He who will not be a member of this Body cannot, of course, be saved; for he will not be receiving abundant life from Christ, because Christ feeds only His own Body, as its Head, as the Head of the Church.
"Outside the Church there is no salvation. And you, my dear sir, have repudiated the Church; by what path do you hope to attain salvation ?"
"I am saved already; I have nothing to attain. God's word clearly says: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.' [Acts 16:31] I believe and so I am saved," the sectarian answered.
"But we have seen that faith alone is still insufficient for salvation. That same word of God says that it is necessary for each one who has come to believe to join on to Christ's Body as a member, to become a member of Christ's Church. Do you find yourself in Christ's Church? Are you a member of Christ's Body or not?"
"I have already repeatedly said that where two or three are gathered in Christ's Name, the Church is there. We are more than two or three; that means that I am in the Church," the Baptist replied.
"But this is your own invention and not the teaching of God's word. In the usual fashion of Protestants, you have pre-empted only a small portion of a scripture and re-interpreted it to fit your own preconceived teaching."
"No, this is the teaching of God's word. Here in the Gospel of Matthew we read: 'Where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am there in the midst of them'. [Mat. 18:20] If Christ is in the midst of us, then the Church is here and so we assert that we find ourselves in the Church." "You are in error yourself," replied Father Kyril, "and you are purposely leading others into error. The words you read do not at all say what you claim.
"He read only the twentieth verse of the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, excluding that part of the Scripture which does not bear out the Baptist interpretation. Let us read also, only we will begin with the preceding verse: 'And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church: but if he refuses to listen to the Church, then consider him to be a heathen and a publican'.
" 'In truth I tell you that whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven'.
" 'Again I tell you that if two of you shall agree on earth concerning anything that they shall request, My Father in Heaven will do it for them; for where two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am there in the midst of them. Matthew 18:17-20].
"As you can see here, the words which the sectarian quoted are not about the Church, but about the prayers of those who are already in the Church. Christ speaks first about the Church as already established, the Church to which all must submit. Further, He promises that, of those in the Church, if two or three will pray about one and the same thing, the Lord will hear them. The prayer of many is stronger than the prayer of one. That is why we, all the members of the Church, gather for common prayer.
"As you see," continued Father Kyril, turning to the Protestant, "you completely misread, misunderstood and misused the Gospel words. This is clear to all the listeners. I will not say you intentionally tried to fool them, but you have erred yourself.
"If everywhere that two or three faithful gathered together, that would constitute the Church, then how many bodies would Christ have; for contrary to the Holy Scripture, these faithful would not be members of the Body of Christ, but would rather constitute separate Bodies of Christ.
"But Christ founded only one Church. He said: 'I will create My Church ... '[Mat. 11:18] not, My Churches; and 'My Church' means only one. It is necessary to belong only to it. According to Protestantism, there is not one but thousands and thousands of Churches — as this one says: 'where two or three are, there is the Church.' He is a Baptist and, of course, he considers that only Baptists constitute the true Church.
"By means of sweet words, 'flattery and eloquence', [Rm. 16:18; Eph. 4:14; 5:6; etc.] as the Apostle says, he has deceived you, charmed you, and you have listened attentively saying: 'he is telling the truth, that's the way it is. and, see — it's all according to the Gospel!' Yet he has read text after text completely out of order and proper context, thus mutilating the Gospel.
"You people are not well educated, you are no theologians, how can you grasp it? You have already heard 'two or three gathered' and 'here is the Church.' Now understand this yourselves that the Church is not there where two or three are gathered, even when they are gathered in Christ's Name. The Baptists also gather in Christ's Name, and the Adventists and the Molokans and the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons and the Pentecostalists and the Khlysts and every other heretical sect. They all gather in the name of Christ — 'there' this Baptist tells us, 'is the Church'. There are so many of these Protestant sects that they number in the many hundreds. Are they each one of them equally the Church of Christ?'
"All of you should understand that they are not. The Church is one. It was founded by Jesus Christ and spread abroad by the Apostles. Throughout all the centuries it has been a visible community in the whole world. Its teaching is unchanged; it can neither be concealed nor can it err. Such is the Orthodox Church.
"And when did your Baptist church come into existence?"
"We live according to the Gospel," retorted the Baptist, "we don't need history."
"Do you not know when you were born? Who your parents are? How is it then that you do not know when your Baptist sect was born and who founded it? And yet .you step forth as a preacher of truth!
"I think that you know very well, but you are afraid to say. Your Baptist sect appeared even later than the Lutheran sect, well after Martin Luther. He was your parent, and John Calvin — he also was your parent and founder; they and the humanist philosophy of the West created and founded your sect.
"You cannot even count more than four-hundred years of your existence. And where was your 'truth', your 'Church' before Luther? Does this mean that for a whole fifteen-hundred years no one knew the truth, no one knew the Church? That would mean that for fifteen centuries no one was saved. It means that the Church had not existed at all or that the 'gates of hell' had prevailed against it. This is but a lot of nonsense! 'A city standing on a hill cannot be concealed' [Mat 15:14] says the Lord, and the Holy Church certainly was not concealed for fifteen centuries.
"I think," continued the priest, "that it is clear to everyone that your sect is on a destructive path and you are calling others to that very same destructive path. Woe unto you tempters! Think of your own salvation!"
"We are already saved. Faith in Christ saves and we believe," the sectarian shouted angrily.
"Leave that!" exclaimed Father Kyril. "We have already heard that from your lips. Do not forget that, according to the Holy Scripture, even demons believe.
"And now brothers and sisters," said Father Kyril, turning to the faithful, "hear further the teaching of the Holy Church about itself. In our time, when there have appeared so many false prophets, with Gospel in hand, yet speaking against the Gospel and seeking to destroy God's deed, you must firmly know that our Orthodox Church is precisely that Church which the Lord God created and in that Church alone can we be saved.
"If you become a member of Christ's Church, you have the hope of salvation, you become a member of Christ's Body, you are fed with the abundant strength for life and piety from the True Vine — Christ the Lord. If you enter a false society which calls itself a Church, you will find yourself opposed to God, you will find inevitable ruin for yourself. Yes, it is terrifying to err in this matter.
"How can one recognize Christ's Church in all this number of various religious communities? It is not difficult. The Lord gave signs by which each person can, if he truly desires, distinguish His Church from other religious communities.
"Here is one of the signs which you will recognize easily. The true Church bears its existence from the moment when the Lord created it. It can be traced, without interruption, directly back to Christ; its growth and development can be followed clearly from the Apostles to this very day.
"The Protestant sects, on the other hand, can trace their history back only to some philosopher-theologian. The date when the Baptist sect, for example, created itself, can be firmly established as having taken place some fifteen hundred years after Christ. This sect is not 'of Christ', but Calvinist, 'of Calvin'. Its growth and development can be clearly traced only back to Martin Luther, for the Baptists are a schism of Lutheranism which is, in turn, a schism from Papism. Each new Protestant sect is a schism of a schism, and so on, ad infinitum.
"During His earthly sojourn, the Lord promised to create His Church — 'I will create My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it';[ Mat. 16:18] and He created when He gave Himself up on the cross and spilled His all-pure Blood on Calvary.
"The Apostle says: 'Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it'. [Eph. 5:25] Let us remember — Christ's Church carries Her beginning from the time of the suffering of Christ the Saviour. At the cost of His sufferings, at the cost of His all-pure Blood, Christ created, redeemed His Church — the visible community of His true followers. On the fortieth day after His resurrection, the Lord ascended into heaven, having promised His disciples that He would be with them invisibly to the end of the ages and that the Father would send them the Holy Spirit as Comforter.
"He sent them the Holy Ghost (Spirit-Comforter) on the day of Pentecost, as we read in the book of Acts. But that was when the Apostle lived, you will say. But now with whom does Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit abide? In every separate person who claims that he believes in Christ ? In every religious society which, even though it acknowledges Christ, lives a life separated from Christ's Church?
"No, these communities must be considered to be societies of those opposed to God, since they violate Christ's will that all be united.
"Where and with whom does Christ and the Holy Spirit abide now ? You already know that Christ is the Head of the Church: 'God placed Him over all ... as Head of ,the Church which is His Body.' [Eph. 1:22-23]
"This means that the promise of Christ, 'I am with you always, even until the end of the ages' concerns Christ's Church in which He will abide eternally, as its Head. Concerning the Holy Spirit, we read: 'I will plead with the Father,' says Christ, 'and He will send another Comforter which will be with you forever.' [Jn. 14:16]
"This was said to the Apostles. But they are not now on earth, yet the Holy Spirit abides 'forever', 'unto all ages'. With whom does It abide then? 'With you', with the believers who are 'one' in Christ's Church. Can Christ and the Holy Spirit be there where there are hundreds of sectarian cults despising one another, at enmity with each other, cursing and condemning each other in the Name of Christ ? For, such is Protestantism. Of course not. In order to receive salvation each person must be in the Church. .'Whoever does not listen to the Church is equal to a heathen' [Mat. 18:17], says the word of God.
"This concerns you Baptists, 'Beware that you do not become fighters against God' [Acts 5 :39] as the Apostle warns."
''Remember," Father Kyril continued, "Christ and the Spirit-Comforter will abide in the Church until the end of the ages. This is the promise of the Lord, it is completely inevitable that it will be fulfilled — 'heaven and earth will pass, but My words will not pass away,' [Mk. 13:31; Lk. 21:33] said Christ the Saviour. It is clear that Christ's Church will endure until the end of the ages, until the second coming of the Saviour, and that it will preserve, in all purity, Christ's truth and the teachings and statutes given to it by God.
"No attack by the enemies are terrifying to it, even though there are many of them. The Jews persecuted it, the heathens persecuted it and now the militant atheists especially torment it and it is tormented by these false preachers with new teachings, sectarians of various numerous so-called 'Churches', these 'satanic assemblies' [Rev. 2:9] as they are called in the Revelation.
"The Church, nevertheless, like a ship in a stormy sea, guided by the hand of an experienced helmsman, bravely cuts through these ferocious waves and does not fear sinking. In vain is this work, these fruitless efforts of all the enemies of the Church. In vain also are the works of your Baptist sect. You cannot sink Christ's ship; you cannot turn Christ's Church from the proper path.
"It happens, sometimes, that during a storm, waves wash some careless passenger off the deck into the deep. So it is in the life of the Church — false prophets can sometimes tear some weak believer from the Church and he will perish. But not all the powers of Hell can vanquish the whole Church. The Helmsman of the Church is Christ the Lord Himself; the Guide of this ship is the Holy Spirit.
"Stand firmly on that Ship. Do not turn away from the Church. Enhearten each other and pray that the Lord may preserve everyone from drowning in the waves of unbelief, in the waves of sectarian false teaching which, in our days, so fiercely attack the Holy Orthodox Church, seeking to devour its weak children.
"I think that all of you here present, with the exception of the sectarians, of course, have been in the Church of Christ since your childhood. How did you enter into this salutary Ship — Christ's Church? By what door did you enter? Where is the entrance into it? God's word testifies clearly about this. The Lord Jesus Christ said: 'Truly I tell you, that unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.' [Jn. 3:5]
"And the Apostle Paul, speaking about the Church in his Epistles to the Ephesians, says: ' ... Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it in order to sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.' [Eph. 5:25-26]
"So the Church is cleansed by a washing of water; in it are found only those who have been through this washing of water. Can one who has not gone through this washing of water belong to the Church? No! What is this washing of water? What is this birth from water? It is not necessary to explain this to you; you all know already that this is Baptism.
"When the Lord Himself called Saul, the great persecutor of believers, to the apostolic service, Saul was told: 'arise and be baptized and wash your sins away.’ [Acts 22:16] By baptism with water, Saul entered Christ's Church. There is no other path. In order to come to a more firm understanding of this, let us read the following words of the epistle to the Corinthians: 'because we are all baptized by one Spirit into one Body .. .'[1 Cor. 12:13]
"We had already heard earlier that the Church is .Christ's Body. How did we all become one Body of Christ, His Holy Church? We have just seen that it is through baptism. Without this there is not 'one Body'; there are no un-baptized in the Church. And now, my Baptist co-interrogator, you say that you are in the Church, but what about your children? Where are they — in the Church or not? For, they have not gone through the washing of water; they are not baptized. Where are they ?"
."They are unable to believe," the sectarian answered, "therefore they cannot be baptized and they are not in the Church." He paused for thought and then said, "They don't need this. After all, haven't you read in the Gospel what the Lord said about children? He clearly said: 'let the children come to Me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.' [Mk. 10:14] They do not need baptism; they do not need the Church, They are automatically inheritors of the Kingdom of God." [There are very many great contradictions in Protestantism and this is the reason for the instability of Protestant doctrine — why they may believe one thing at one period and then, by a process of modification, find themselves believing something altogether different some decades later. Few of their contradictions have been greater than this, however: In actual fact, according to their own teaching, infants cannot be saved at all. If baptism is necessary for salvation, but infants cannot be baptized because they are too young to believe, then they cannot be saved. If, on the other hand, faith alone is the absolute requirement for salvation, but still, infants cannot be baptized because they are too young to believe, then they cannot be saved either. The absurdities of Protestantism are never-ending.]
"Yes!" replied Father Kyril, "The Lord says: 'Tolerate the little children and do not prevent them from coming unto Me ... ' You know this, but still you prevent these children from coming to Christ.
"What would you say if, while sailing on a ship at sea, some wretched mother began to throw her own children overboard into the deep as a sacrifice to fierce sharks? But you see, you are doing just this. By not allowing children to be baptized, you are leaving them as a sacrifice to the powers of hell; you are not allowing them into the Church; you are forbidding them to come unto Christ.
"There is no salvation outside the Church. The Lord provided the possibility for all mankind to be saved, but only those who become members of His Body, i.e., the Church, are saved. The Apostle Paul says:
"'... Christ is the Saviour of the Body.' [Eph. 5:23]
"Children must be allowed into the Church, they must be as young little branches on the Vine, as organs of the Body of Christ."
"But the Lord says 'theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven' and they will enter heaven without any of this," replied the Baptist.
"In truth,” said Father Kyril, "what is actually said by the Lord is 'of such is the Kingdom of heaven ... ' Childlike pureness and innocence has a right to the heavenly kingdom. Children, however, must be led, even carried there. They, being pure and sinless, must be freed from ancestral sin through the Church. It was not in vain that the Lord strictly warned the apostles: 'Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto Me ... "[Mk. 10:14] and He says this to you sectarians — 'do not prevent the children from coming unto Me ... ' But what is your reply ? — 'No, Lord, we won't let them come unto You!'
"Fear God, you unfortunates. For you are committing the outrage of Herod who had killed 14,000 babes," [Mat. 2:16]. Stop committing Herod's crime against your own children. Do not destroy them! Do not forget that only those who have 'clothed themselves' in Christ through baptism can be with Christ, as the Apostle says: 'as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have vested yourselves in Christ.' [Gal. 3:27]
"Your children, although they are innocent in personal sins, are never-the-less 'unclean' without baptism, according to the words of the Holy Scripture. They must 'be clothed' in Christ through baptism.
"Now, Orthodox Christians, you clearly see what this new teaching is like, this teaching which is brought to you by false teachers. In the Holy Scripture, such teaching is called a heresy and its preachers are called 'heretics'. Listen to the command of the Holy Apostle Paul about how to treat such heretics: 'If a man remains a heretic after the first and second admonition, reject him, knowing that he is subverted and in sin, being self-condemned.' [Tit. 3:10-11]
"Thus, we have seen that both adults and little children must belong to the Church and they enter the Church, become members of it, through the mystery of baptism. Through baptism, all believers become 'complete in one', [1 Cor. 12:12-13; vid Gal. 3:28; Col.3:ll] the Greek and the Judean, are united by invisible bonds both amongst themselves and with Christ the Lord. They become 'one' in Christ, they become one body restored to life by the Holy Spirit. It is in this fact that one comes to understand why the Church is undefeatable. It is in vain that you Baptists attack Christ's Church. Have you ever seen the rocky shore of a sea? What terrifying waves are driven against these cliffs. And what happens? These waves are smashed, they turn into foam and spray, but the cliff stands on and on.
"So it is that Christ's Church does not fear you false teachers, nor even the powers of hell themselves. The strongest, crudest enemies have smashed, are smashing now and will be smashing in the future against the firmness of the Holy Church. How many heretics have there been in former times? Where are they now? They have all perished.
"Christ's Church, as the Body of Christ, unites all the baptized, truly believing, amongst themselves; not only the faithful on this earth, but also those who have already left this sinful world.
"God's word testifies that: 'God the Father, ... having revealed to us the mystery of His will, in accordance with His desire ... to gather together all things, both that which is in heaven and that which is on earth, into one under the headship of Christ'. [cf. Eph. 1:3-10. (Christ's Body, i.e., the Church, is one, encompassing the faithful of both heaven and earth).]
"In what magnitude and wondrous beauty the Orthodox Church is depicted before our spiritual gaze. It is here on earth, and it is in heaven — yet it is undivided, one under a single Head, Christ Jesus. Both we, the sinful inhabitants of the world, and they, the heavenly righteous-ones — we are all of us members of one Body. The Apostle says: 'But you have arrived upon Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the numberless company of the angels; to the triumphant council and church of the first-born which are written in heaven; and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. .. )[Heb. 12:22-24].
"You see that we are united with the angels, with the Church of the first-born and with the spirits of the righteous-ones who have reached perfection. Oh, how majestic is Christ's Church. In it, both heaven and earth have been united, in it are the angels, the souls of the righteous-ones and Christ the Lord Himself, and the Life-giving Holy Spirit; and, oh, the mercy and love of God, we sinners are in it too. This is what the God-created Church is like. What beauty, what majesty!
"Compare all this with that invention of man's weak mind: 'where two or three have gathered — there is the Church'; how insignificant it is. How insignificant is man and how insignificant is his teaching. Yet you opened your ears in order to hear their empty words and at least some of you were ready to throw away what is eternal and Divine in order to adhere to what is insignificant, corruptible and disastrous. Be repentant, and in the future watch over your salvation. 'See that you walk carefully, not as foolish ones, but as wise ... do not be unwise, but understand what the Lord's will is'. [Eph. 5:15, 17]
"The Gospel teaching that not only the believers on earth, but also the heavenly dwellers belong to the Church, under the Headship of Christ, gives us a firm hope for salvation. Why? Because they and we are, therefore, members of one Body.
"The dwellers of heaven, being older and stronger members, do not abandon us or leave us without their help. They succor us in our struggles, for they are living testimony of the truth of salvation and eternal life. The Theotokos, the angels, all of God's Holy-Ones, the Apostles, Prophets, Holy Prelates, Martyrs, the Unmercenary-Ones, and the righteous-ones to whom we turn with our supplications: all of them pray for us, intercede for us before Christ our Head. They extend their hand of help to us in oar misfortunes and they comfort us in our suffering. Where do you Protestants have this wondrous help of the dwellers of heaven ? Where is their support for you in your march to eternal life ?"
"Our support is Christ!" exclaimed the sectarian. "No other support is necessary for us. Christ redeemed us and saved us. No one can help us — neither the Theotokos nor your saints. It is in vain that you speak to them; they absolutely cannot hear you and they cannot intercede for you.
"You reproach us for going against God's word," he continued, "but now you yourself contradict the Holy Scripture. What does the Apostle Paul say ? 'For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus' [1 Tim. 2:5 (i.e., the Human nature of Christ, God become man in order to unite man to God.)] Do you hear? It says one mediator, one intercessor. But you have the Theotokos, angels, thousands of intercessors! Where did you get them? Is the intercession of Jesus Christ before God the Father insufficient for salvation? To ask for the intercessions of the Saints is a degradation of Christ. Judge for yourselves, listeners; does the Orthodox Church act correctly when it prays to Saints ?" [One of the most significant aspects of Protestantism is the total severing of all exchanges between the Church militant and the Church triumphant. Since, in reality, they have no contact or connection with heaven and no hope of entering the Heavenly Church, it is only natural that they, not having this fellowship with heaven, would deny that such a fellowship exists. Thus, the-primary identifying mark of Protestantism is the willful destruction of Holy Love.]
"The Orthodox Church acts correctly," replied Father Kyril calmly. "But one is amazed by you. How is it that you, a preacher, completely refuse to understand the Holy Scripture? Tell us why Christ is called Intercessor and Mediator."
"Because," the Baptist answered, "He alone redeemed us. He alone saved us. We know no other redeemers or saviours."
"Absolutely correct," the priest began. "He brought Himself to be a sacrifice; nor is there any other being able to bring such a sacrifice. In this fact, Christ is the only Mediator and the only Intercessor.
"When we appeal to the heavenly members of the Church with requests for their aid, we ask only that they pray for us before the one Intercessor, Christ. Could it be that to pray for one another is a degradation of Christ? If that is so then why does the Apostle James say, ' .. . pray for one another .. .' [Jas. 5:16.] and was the Apostle Paul teaching US to degrade Christ when he commanded: 'Thus I exhort you, first of all, that you make supplications, prayers and intercessions ... for all men'. [1 Tim. 2:1]
"And you — why do you pray for the members of your sect, and not for them only, but you also intercede for non-members that they will be converted and join your sect? Thus you intercede. Yet, according to you, only Christ can intercede in this way. What right do you have to become an intercessor? Therefore, cease at once to pray for others since that, according to your teaching, is a great sin.
"I am amazed at how poorly you understand the Holy Scripture. We appeal for help to the Saints, and the Saints pray for us because we are all members of one and the same Body of Christ — the Church; for, members of a body help each other and both commiserate and rejoice together. Read in the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, and remember these words:
"'If one member suffers, all members commiserate with it; or if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. [And this, of course, is one of the reasons why -we glorify (canonize) Saints. God reveals to us, through miracles granted in response to the supplications of these Saints, that that righteous-one has been glorified in Heaven. We, therefore, obeying the Scripture, rejoice with the honoured-one by glorifying him also in the rest of the Church, the Church on earth.] Now you are the body of Christ. . .' [1 Cor. 12:26-27.] Therefore, the holy dwellers of heaven cannot do otherwise than to rejoice with us or commiserate with us in our misfortune. What kind of commiseration would it be if they will not desire to help us? And, wishing to give us help, where else would they turn with their fervent prayer for us but to this One Intercessor and Intermediary, Christ, Who has shed his Blood for us ?
"Now where is there a contradiction here to the Holy Scripture?
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