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 ...
We have already seen that there is a tight bond of unity and a close intercourse between all members of the true Church. They are tied together by concern for one another, by commiseration and by love for one another. Therefore, all members of the Church, without differentiation, whether living on earth or having reposed, all pray for one another.
"You sectarians, however, divide people and separate them into living and dead. The Church, on the other hand, knows no such divisions. We know that no such division exists with God, ' ... for with Him, all are alive,' [Lk. 20:38] as God's word says.
"The souls of the righteous-ones who have reached perfection rejoice and celebrate, and we rejoice and celebrate with them, for, according to the Holy Scripture, 'If one member is honored, all members rejoice with him."[1 Cor. 12:36] If we who dwell on earth suffer from our sins, needs and illnesses, we know that all the souls of the righteous-ones who have reached perfection commiserate with us. 'If one member suffers, all members commiserate with it,' the Bible says. We know that they pray for us and we are assured that, 'The ... prayer of a righteous-one availeth much'. [Jas. 5:16]
We in our turn, pray for all those who have reposed in the faith, who have not yet reached perfection, not been glorified by the Church. In this is the highest manifestation of Christ's love which unites both heaven and earth.
"How poor you are, sectarians; for you do not possess what is most important, what must be foremost in Christianity — you do not have love. You have hardened and become cold in your pride — 'I believe, I am saved, I am an inheritor of paradise, I am holy,' you say. But you do not have the most important thing of all — love. What will you Baptists do when, according to the Apostle's words, you will see the future life not conjecturally, as if through a dull glass, but face to face and you will find that love is greater than faith? [1 Cor. 13:12-13]
"How will you go to the Source of Love, not possessing love? Do not forget that 'if you had all the faith so that you could even move mountains, but do not possess love, then you are nothing'. [1 Cor. 13:2] And where is your love if death has become the victor and has broken your spiritual bonds of unity both with relatives and with fellow believers? Can you cry out in ecstasy with the Apostle: 'Death! where is thy sting ? Grave! Where is thy victory?' [1 Cor. 15:55] Alas, you cannot. You do not have love, and faith without love is nothing. A handful of soil, a tombstone have become unconquerable obstacles for communion with those who have departed from the world. Can there be salvation there, where there is no love? Decide for yourselves.
"And thus, in Christ's Church, heaven and earth are united. Members of the Church are all the truly-believing of all times and from all places, both the living and those who have reposed . And since those who have reposed are not dead, but alive, intercourse between all the members has never ceased and will never cease."
Having prayed together, we took a recess from the discourse, and animated conversations were carried on throughout the crowd.
Father Kyril called the discussion to order, and began again: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
"In the Symbol of Faith we read : 'I believe in one Holy . . . Church'. The Church is holy without a doubt. God's word says: 'Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it in order to sanctify it. . . ' (Eph. 5:25-26.) If Christ Himself is the founder and sanctifier of the Church, He is also the Head of the Church and so there can be no doubt that it is holy. It is written: 'If the first fruit is holy, the rest is also holy: and if the root is holy, so are the branches' (Rom. 11:16).
"The Church is holy also because the Holy Spirit abides in it and because the Heavenly Church is one with it. Finally, it is holy because all its teaching and statutes are holy. According to God's mercy, we belong to the Holy Church which is called 'Orthodox'. By vigils and virtues, being quickened by prayer, strengthened by hope and consecrated by the Holy Mysteries, we ascend from perfection to perfection and become worthy upon our repose, to enter into the joy of our Lord."
"As far as I know," the Protestant raised his voice, ''Orthodox Christians always call themselves sinners. Is that so?"
"Yes, we are all sinners and we call ourselves sinners."
"Then how," said the Baptist triumphantly, ''can your Church be Holy if all of you are sinners? You say that all the millions of people, each one individually, is a sinner, but as soon as all have gathered together, the Church is already 'holy'? This doesn't make sense and isn't in agreement with God's word. Permit me to read you something from an Epistle of tile Apostle Paul: 'That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that He might present it to himself a glorious Church, spotless, without wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.' (Epb, 5:26 27).
"This" he proclaimed, "is how the true Church must be. There must not be a single sinner there, but only those who are holy and pure. Amongst you Orthodox, however, no matter whom you ask, it is the same reply: 'I am sinful, a sinner.' Is that what Christ's Church is like?"
"Well," asked Father Kyril, "what do you think about yourselves?"
"We are holy and pure! We do not sin! We believe in Jesus Christ and abide in Him and 'everyone who abides in him does not sin,' we read at first John, chapter three, verse six."
"It would appear to me," replied Father Kyril, "that you are not giving such a correct report of yourselves. So far your words are dripping with self-conceit, boasting and gross pride. Moreover, you have a complete lack of knowledge not only of the spirit of the Holy Scripture, but also of its letter.
"Now I will answer your questions," the priest continued. "We have already seen why the Church is holy. I will repeat: it is holy because the Founder and Head of it is Christ; because the Holy Spirit abides in it; it is holy because the heavenly Church is one with it; and it is holy because its teachings are holy and because it is the steward of the Divine Mysteries (sacraments). There are clear testimonies to all this in the Holy Scripture.
"The presence of sinners as well as the righteous in the earthly Church in no way prevents it from being holy. I can't understand where the Protestants found such a teaching that sinners must not be permitted in the Church. This is not spoken of in God's word."
"What do you mean, it is not spoken of?" replied the sectarian. "The Apostle repeatedly writes: 'to be called saints' (1 Corinthians 1:1) ; 'with all the saints' (2 Corinthians 1:1); 'to all the saints and faithful' (Ephesians 1:1); 'to all the .saints in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 1:1); and so on. The Apostle always calls the faithful 'saints'. If they are saints, then, of course, they are not sinful — a sinner is not holy and a saint is not a sinner. Our Baptist church is a holy church. We who have accepted Christ as our personal Saviour are all holy saints. We are believers and we do not sin. But your Orthodox Church, how can it be called holy when you are all sinners? And what kind of sinners yet? Whom do I see here? — drunkards, thieves, adulterers, smokers, yet suddenly, the Church is holy?"
At this reference to the people gathered, many, of course, became offended and a general disorder erupted. After some time the priest finally managed to restore order. He began again.
"Don't be angry at our visitor. He didn't mean to offend you. The whole trouble lies in the fact that he does not understand what the word 'holy' means. He thinks 'holy' means sinless. This, however, is a common mistake. But this is an error. Only the Lord can be called holy in the sense of one completely sinless, without any kind of insufficiency. God's word testifies to this: 'Only Thou art holy' (Rev. 15:4). This is the testimony of the heavenly beings, precisely those whom we call 'holy'. How can one say, then, that this Baptist with us today is holy in the sense of not possessing any sin?
"What does the word 'holy' then mean in application to the faithful ? It means: one who is set apart, apportioned to the Lord, separate from others. It means those believers in Christ who are separated by their faith from all other peoples. Thus the Lord says to the Jews: 'And you •will be with Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.. .' (Ex.19:6). "As you see, the Hebrews were often called 'holy', a 'holy nation'. Why? Because they were sinless? Of course not; for that same Lord who calls this people 'holy' also calls them 'corrupted' and 'stiff-necked', and we see that 'They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them, and have made for themselves a molten calf and have worshipped it' (Ex. 32:8).
"Bear in mind also that the Holy Scripture calls not only believing people 'holy' but also various elements and objects: earth (Ex. 3:5); water (Num. 5:17); house (1 Ki. 29:3); oil (Ps. 88:21) and other things as well. Do we then apply the meaning 'sinlessness' to these objects? Of course not. This means only that the objects are apportioned by a special act or word of God, Mt. Sinai, for example, or by special usage in Divine service, water, oil, holy vessels, etc. I think that-you all should understand what I mean."
"It is in precisely this sense that we must understand the term 'saints', 'holy' as applied to believers by the apostles in their letters.
"Even now I could address you all as, 'holy brothers and sisters in Christ' and neither you nor I will think that you are sinless. Believers are 'holy', i.e., they are apportioned, set apart from all other peoples who do not believe. Were there sinners in the local churches, amongst the believers to whom the apostles wrote? Did these believers consider themselves to be sinners at that time, the same faithful whom the apostle addressed as 'holy'? Let the Holy Scripture itself answer these questions: 'We all sin much', the Apostle says of the believers of the Church. And John, the beloved Apostle says: 'If we say that we are sinless, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us' (1 Jn. 1:8).
"Do you hear that, Baptists? If you consider yourselves as possessing no sin, then you are self-deceived, and deceiving others, you are walking on a false path — there is no truth in you. This is said by the very same Apostle whose words you quoted, 'everyone who abides in Him does not sin'. What is this? Can it be that the Apostle Paul contradicts himself? Of course not; for he wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The whole trouble lies in the fact that you can read but you cannot understand what you read, just as Philip heard the Ethiopian reading scripture and asked, 'do you understand what you are reading?' (Acts 8:30). The Ethiopian was not full of pride as you Protestants are, he asked for the supervision of the Apostle in order to understand. You, with your weak human minds, want to seize the profound meaning of the Holy Scripture without the supervision of the Holy Apostolic Church; you wish to ignore and repudiate the words of the Apostle Peter: 'Know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is for any private interpretation.' (2 Pet. 1:20) Yet you dare to do this and to teach others to do it also. The holy Apostle Peter responds to you thus: ' ... in all his (Paul's) epistles, he speaks of these things, and in them (the epistles) there are some things which are difficult to understand; yet those who are unlearned and unstable mutilate these, as they do the Scripture, to their own destruction ... ' (2 Pet. 3:16).
"No doubt you (speaking to the Baptist preacher) have read the Epistles of the Holy Apostles more than once. Could it be that you purposely ignored what insufficiencies, sins and crimes of which the apostles accuse those whom they call 'holy’? Read the Epistle of James who accuses and reproaches the faithful believers for scorning the poor, partiality, looseness of the tongue, animosity, quarrels, envy, slander and withholding the pay of workers, and so on. Those same Corinthians whom Paul calls 'holy' in his invocation, he reproaches for adultery, avarice, evil-speaking, drunkenness, robbery, litigation, and so on. He calls them sensual.
"It is clear that even the first Christians with their firm belief, love, confession and martyrdom, they who have shone forth in the whole world like bright heavenly stars, nevertheless, were not sinless and did not consider themselves to be so. The great Apostle himself, who was translated into heaven, sealed by Christ as a chosen vessel, who had seen the mansions of paradise and the bliss of those who dwell in the heavens; he was so completely remote from that gross pride and self-esteem which is so inherent in Protestantism. Behold how he speaks of himself, 'I am the chief of sinners' (1 Tim. 1:15), and again, 'Not that I have now attained (this) or am already made perfect: but I press on to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus once took hold of me. Brethren, I do not consider that I have attained it yet: But I do this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' (Phil. 3:12-14).
"The apostle Paul does not consider himself as having reached holiness, perfection or having a guarantee of dwelling in paradise. He does not consider himself as being sinless, but he considers himself to be struggling forward. [cf. "How Does Orthodoxy Differ Prom the Western Denominations?", by Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), ORTHODOX LIFE, Vol. 20, Nr. 2, 1970.]
"On this path one member of the Church will have progressed farther; another will have progressed less; another will still be only beginning his first step — is only just beginning the process of being perfected. In the Church, says the Apostle, as 'in a large house, there are vessels not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and of clay' (2 Tim. 2:20).
"Each person is exposed to temptations and all his life he must struggle with his sinful inclinations. The holy Apostle Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans, depicts with amazing clarity, this picture of man struggling with his sinful inclinations: 'We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a carnal, unspiritual creature, having been sold into slavery under sin. For, I do not understand my own actions. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I despise.
"Now if I habitually do what is contrary to my desire, this means that I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good and that I take sides with it. However, it is no longer I who does the deed, but the sin which is at home in me and has possession of me.
"' For I know that nothing good dwells within me. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out; for I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am always doing.
"'Now, if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it, but the sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a rule that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present in me and I am subject to its instant demands- "'I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost being; but I discern in my bodily members, a different law at war against the law of my mind, making me a prisoner of the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs.' [Here is a good explanation of ancestral sin and an example of how, having been forgiven at Holy Baptism, one must, nevertheless, straggle against the general presence of a principle of sin which Satan constantly activates against us in order to lead us into various specific sins and into a sinful way of life in general.] (Rom. 7:14-23).
"When you Baptists penetrate into the meaning of these words of the great Apostle, you will understand how far you stand from the Evangelical truth. You Protestants do not possess humility. Pride has overwhelmed you — in this fact lies the entire horror of your situation. You cannot say with the publican, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner!' because on your lips and in your hearts are always the proud words of the pharisee, 'Thank you, O God, that I am not sinful like other people!' This you have several times said here today.
"Now can you understand how far you are from any justification, how far indeed you are from salvation?
"Now you should come torealize that the Church is holy. The presence of sinners in it cannot serve as an obstacle to keep it from being holy.
"The time has grown quite late," said Father Kyril, pausing for a moment. "Many of you have far to go home. I don't wish to keep you for long, but in order to end the talk about the Church, it is necessary to explain why, in the Symbol of Faith, our Orthodox Christian Church is called Apostolic.
"It is written in the book of Revelation: 'And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb' (21:14).
"The cornerstone of the Church is Christ. Stones laid in the foundation of the Church are the Apostles. The Lord left to the Apostles all His teachings, all the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God. After his resurrection, He, in the course of forty days, instructed them how to establish His Church and how to spread it over the whole world, how to protect it from the attacks of unbelieving people, false teachers and the powers of hell.
"The apostles, being inspired with the Holy Spirit, created that amazing order of Church life which we now see in the Orthodox Church. We see the pastors — bishops, priests and deacons; we see the flock — the laity; we are consecrated by the Divinely established Mysteries and sacraments, the performance of divine services; we have prayerful communion with all members of the Church. We see various services in the Church which were established by the apostles, as we read in the Holy Scripture: 'And his gifts were varied; He Himself appointed some to protect it from the attacks of unbelieving people, false teachers and preachers.' (Eph. 4:11) (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28-29).
"As you can see, the positions and services of the various members of the Church differ. There are pastors and there are flocks. In the Epistle of the Apostle Peter it is written: 'I warn and counsel the presbyters (Priests) amongst you, as a fellow presbyter and as an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory that is to be revealed: Tend the flock of God that is your responsibility, not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits, but eagerly and cheerfully. Not as domineering over those in your charge, but by being examples to the flock.
" 'And when the Chief Shepherd is revealed you will win the conqueror's crown of glory.
" 'Likewise you that are younger and of lesser rank be subject to the presbyters, giving them due respect and yielding to their counsel. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility ... ' (1 Pet. 5:1-5).
"In the Apostolic Church there is a Pastor-Overseer — Christ, there are pastors, there is the flock. Christ entrusts His flock to the pastors; they must tend it, guard it from fierce wolves, and feed it spiritually. The pastors are responsible for the flock entrusted to them and when the Pastor-Overseer appears, He will demand an account from them.
"Here is the order and arrangement of Church life in the Holy, Orthodox, Apostolic Church. Thus it has been up to the present time and will be to the end of the ages. We are the pastors and you are the flock. We shall have to give an account about you on the day of the dread judgment, we shall have to lead you up to Christ and say, 'Here I am and the children whom the Lord entrusted to me!' The Lord will ask us how we tended the flock entrusted to us and we shall have to give an account.
"But he will ask you, 'were you in obedience to your pastors? Did you listen to their calling and instructing voice? Did your hearts burn with love toward the Holy Apostolic Church? Or did you listen to those who change the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:7-8), "injure the word of God" (2 Cor. 2:7), "speak repulsively" (Ac. 20:30) "wander away into empty words" (1 Tim. 1:6): Did you run after every wind, after every preacher of new teachings?'
"If the answer to the latter is yes, then woe unto you! Do not try to justify yourselves by saying that they charmed you 'by flattering words' (2 Pet. 2-3), 'by flattery' (Horn. 16:18), 'sly artfulness, seduction' (Epb. 4:14).
"Does God's word give signs by which one can recognize these false preachers? Yes it does give them — and very clearly. The Apostle Peter says that they are: 'insolent, self-willed, they blaspheme the highest.. ' (2 Pet. 2:10), and the Apostle Paul says that they are: 'proud, arrogant, slanderous, . .. treacherous, rash and inflated with self-conceit ... For although they hold a form of religiousness, they deny, reject and are strangers to the power of it. Avoid and turn, away from all such people' (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
"The foresighted Apostles, warning the believers away from false teachers, also foretold the fate of these teachers: 'But they will not get very far, for their rash folly will become obvious to everybody ... ' (2 Tim. 3:9).
" 'Their end will be according to their deeds' (2 Cor. 11-15), says that same Apostle; and 'Their fate is long ago readied, their destruction has not been asleep' (2 Pet. 2:3), says the Apostle Peter.
"But the same fate also awaits those who listen to them, accept and agree with their false teaching. They are blind leaders who have not only voluntarily blinded themselves, but who even dare to lead others. God's word warns: 'If the blind lead the blind, then both will fall into a pit.' (Mat 15:14).
"Therefore, my dear ones, 'beware of evil doers'.
"I consider my talk ended. I thank you for the attention with which you followed the course of the talk. I pray that you understand that one cannot destroy what God has created, one cannot mock at the Church which was created by God: no one can prevail against the Church, but all such attackers will themselves in the end perish.
"In farewell, here is a little example which you can remember and tell to your children: We are standing near the church-building; look at it. For many years now it has endured bad weather — winds, rains. Some bricks in the foundation are being broken up by the influences of the weather and have fallen out; they are lying around near the fence. Here is a piece of rotten board from the trimming and over there a stone. Do they have any significance now? None — anyone can throw it anywhere; no one will object; no one will pay any attention. Yet while these stones and boards were in the walls of this temple, they were holy images because this temple is called 'holy', you are on the path to salvation; but if you leave Christ's Church, repudiate Holy Orthodoxy, then you will be like this little stone, like that rotten board, which are trampled by the people like any rubbish. Every unclean spirit, every unclean power will trample you, will dirty your soul.
"I will remind you of the words of the Apostles: 'Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise, making the very most of time because the days are evil.' (Eph. 5:15-16)."
"You want to end the talk," said the sectarian, "but I would like to ask another question. May I ?"
"You spoke much about the Church and I listened attentively. But I would like to know, who saves, strictly speaking, Christ or the Church?"
"I understand you," replied Father Kyril. "You are not asking because you do not know and not because the question interests you, but in order to try to ensnare me with sly questions. Such 'questions' were also given to Christ the Lord and He often answered these questions with questions. I shall here answer your question with questions:
"First: Can the Church be in obscurity, can it be invisible, or for that matter, imaginary? Clearly, it cannot. The Lord founded a definite Church — 'I will create My Church' (Mat. 16:18). It cannot be invisible since the enemies — the 'gates of hell' will attack it, and it must obtain victory in this struggle. The combatants which are struggling are known, definite quantities."
"You are evading my question and not answering it!" cried out the Baptist.
"Have patience to hear out my reply. A clear, exact answer will be given.
"Second: Can one who does not belong to the 'Body of Christ', i.e., the Church, be saved? The answer is clear: one cannot. 'Jesus Christ', according to the Scripture, 'is the Saviour of the Body', i.e., the Church.
"Finally: Can one separate the head from the body? Yes one can, but there will be life in neither the head nor the body.
"You see my friend, your question, 'what saves, Christ or the Church' is evident nonsense. Christ is the Head of the Church which is His Body (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23-27; Rom. 12:4). It means that Christ saves those who are in His Body, who are in the Church, said otherwise: Christ saves through the Church.
"One cannot say 'who saves, Christ or the Church'. The question as you see, is senseless. If you are an honorable person, if you do not 'philosophize evilly', then by this answer you must be satisfied."
Then Father Kyril asked that everyone who did not already have the New Testament in their homes, get one as soon as possible.
"I will give to your parish priest, Fr. John here, a list of those places in the Holy Scripture which are necessary to know in order to correctly contemplate Christ's Church, so that no one can throw you off from the path of salvation. you may copy out the list from Father John. [The List is given at the end of this narrative].
"And what would you say about yourself, missionary; are you sinful or holy? You said nothing about yourself," one of the Baptist women cried out.
"I, like everyone, am a sinful person," replied the priest.
"You are sinful? Well, then, you will go to hell. There is no place for sinners in paradise. But we who have accepted Jesus will go to paradise with the angels!".
"You spoke the truth," replied Fr. Kyril. "For unrepentant sinners a place is prepared in hell. Imagine to yourself this picture: the unrepentant sinners of the Orthodox Church, the drunkards, the adulterers, thieves, enviers and murderers, those with malice and haters of others and other sinners, are heading along a wide road to hell. What is to be done ? The answer is clear: don't sin! But do you know who is going with them arm in arm, although she is not an adulteress, not a drunkard, not a thief ? — a heretic. Read in the Epistle to the Galatians, 5:20. [Within this meaning are included: factions, sects with heterodox opinions, heresies in general, (cf. the Zondervan commentary — the Protestants obviously are not entirely ignorant that they are heretics).] That means, in one company? Well then, the farther they go together, the nearer they come to hell.
"Almost at the very vestibule of hell the great sinners who are members of the Church have come to their senses: 'O Lord, you saved both the thief and the fornicator, softened the hard heart of Zacchaeus, accepted the repentant Peter — save us, too, forgive us our great sinning. Accept us even though it is past the eleventh hour! For our salvation You shed Your own. Blood and established Your Holy Church!' And what then? Will the Lord not forgive these great sinners? Undoubtedly He will. And they will turn back and go along the path to paradise. And on hell's road there will then remain only the heretic. There will be no salvation for her, for she will not confess her sinfulness and repent, she does not ask for forgiveness. And you will go, my lady, to hell, to eternal torment! Repent, while there is still time!"
This created a strong impression on all of us.
"Let us give thanks to the Lord for His help in the explaining of the Evangelical teaching about the Church," said Fr. Kyril and then led us in the hymns "O Lord, save Thy people!" and "Meet it is". The gathering then began to separate into smaller groups as families began to prepare to set out for home and their afternoon tea.
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