by Dr. Vladimir Moss
Ecumenists often accuse the Orthodox of being proud because they claim to have the truth about God and the Church. This is a superficially plausible accusation which turns out to undermine the whole concept of “knowing the truth”. Yes, we do claim to know the truth. That is why we call ourselves “Orthodox”, which comes from two Greek words meaning “right” (ortho-) and “glory” (-doxa”). For we glorify God precisely by telling the truth about Him and by obeying His true commandments (“orthopraxis”).
The Orthodox, if they are truly Orthodox, are not personally proud of having the right confession because they know that it is in no way their merit, but is a gift of God (Ephesians 2.8). This is not the same as claiming that they will be saved; for they do not know whether they will retain this right faith to the end of their lives, nor whether God will remove His gift from them because of the sinfulness of their deeds. Nor are they saying that perhaps what they are confessing is the truth. For true faith has nothing uncertain about it; What the Orthodox claim is “the faith of things hoped for, the proof (elegkos) of things not seen” (Hebrews 11.1). He who has proof does not need evidence; he has the proof living within his heart, just as a man who loves a woman cannot and does not need to prove what is in his heart. We can go further: if a man says that, say, Christ may be God, we can say that he does not have the true faith, or is struggling to hold onto it, because he who has a true faith in God just knows it for certain.
Another case is that of an Orthodox who, while claiming to know the truth with certainty, shows intense personal pride in his “achievement”.
As a fairly recent example (September, 2014), let us take article a4 of a statement of the Secretariat of the Synod of the True Orthodox Church of Greece (GOC-K) with my commentary in italics:
“The contents of the Union document, which the Hierarchs of the former Synod in Resistance today confess and proclaim with full knowledge and sincerity, leave no margin for doubt as to their mind-set, which is in every respect Orthodox.”
The authors of this document may have no doubts about their Orthodox mind-set, but many other True Orthodox Churches do, including, just recently, the True Orthodox Church of Romania under Metropolitan Dimosten…
“a4. The Hierarchs of the former Synod in Resistance have, through their Orthodox Confession, and also through their self-sacrificial actions, forcefully emphasized the genuineness of their mind-set and attitudes, inasmuch as they
“• dissolved their distinct Synod;
“• relinquished all of their pastoral prerogatives;
“• placed their prodigious pastoral and missionary work under the protection of our Synod;
“• displayed exceeding humility…”
Let us assume for one moment that all this is true (although we believe it is certainly not). For the purposes of this article it is sufficient to point to the astonishing immodesty of the former “Synod in Resistance” hierarchs about their own “prodigious pastoral and missionary work” and “exceeding humility”. Is there any example in the whole history of the Church of confessing hierarchs praising themselves to such an extent, of ascribing to themselves “exceeding humility”? If there are such examples, those proud hierarchs could not have remained Orthodox for long.
For the Spirit of truth cannot coexist with the spirit of pride. God gives the true faith to the humble, who accept the gift in humility and intense gratitude. One who believes that the gift of true faith is given to him as a reward for human virtue and thinks he will be saved through that is in fact ascribing his salvation to his (supposedly) good works and not to the gift of God. He already has his reward…
December 13/26, 2022.