My Personal Responsibility to Combat Heresy...

edited December 1969 in Personal Issues
Hello all,

Sorry for another long post on a topic we've already covered, but I would like some further input on this. My father is getting baptized tomorrow in that odd anti-Christian cult I've posted about before, and it has me wondering: Is there something specific I should be doing about this situation? I am deeply unhappy that this is happening, of course, though I'm having trouble finding a way to express it or cope with it. It is hard to look at something that someone who you love is so happy about and essentially rain all over their parade about it, you know? Granted, our Lord and Savior did nothing less than that when confronting the comfortable and self-satisfied people of Biblical times, but I don't know...on the other hand, St. Joseph certainly believed in Him!  :-\

Anyway, conversations with a few people whose opinions I deeply respect have got me wondering if I haven't been too "hands off" about this whole situation, and if so how I might go about changing that in a way that will be effective, stern, but still respectful and honorable. I must admit that there is a part of my mind that tells me "Just lie low and don't cause trouble for another month and you will be 1,200 miles away and in another state!", but I also know that heresy is everywhere, so it does no good to run away from it here and think that the situation will somehow right itself. We're talking about a man's soul here, and not just any random man on the street, but my own father. And besides, that's the hardly the example given by our Lord, the Fathers, and all the saints. Heck, St. Nicholas punched Arius in the face, and now Arianism is entering my house and not only am I not punching anyone, I have a hard time mustering a concrete example of anything I've done other than praying a lot and getting into a few arguments at the beginning of this whole debacle!

It is a sad, sad day when praying doesn't seem like it's enough. I don't know. Maybe I wasn't specific enough? I prayed that God guide him (and me) to the truth, because I know that the truth is Orthodox Christianity, which is both Apostolic and Trinitarian (while this cult is neither), so I didn't figure that God would need further specifiers, being as He is truth. Maybe I should have said "God, please guide him away from the snares of the devil in the form of this glittering mirage that calls itself Your church. Show him what a lie it is, so that he will flee from it." But alas I was not that specific.

I don't know. I feel like such a failure. I've prayed and prayed, and tried to stay as respectful and hopeful as I can be, but now he's joining this awful, awful thing that denies the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Christ and I feel like I have no choice but to watch it happen and pray that he comes to his senses and leaves (even though I know he's not going to, if left to his own devices). And it's at least partially my fault that it is this way! What can I do, people? This is killing me! I feel really scared and guilty that I've been so very weak and unfaithful. This is really something that I'll have to answer for, isn't it? What a terrible way to live this is, and to know that it is waiting for me in the future, too...ugh. I just cannot stand it. Please help me! What on earth can be done?


  • Forgive me, I am not very familiar with your background story but is your father coverting to Arianism ie (Jehovah witness)?  and what religion is your father is he Orthodox? I really don't get the whole story!!

    But none the Less may God bring him back to him..  But just remember God cant force your father to love him, your father must want to love God and seek Him in Truth!
  • No, he's not Orthodox and never has been (just like me, I suppose), and he's joining some weird "church" that doesn't believe in the Trinity or the divinity of Christ. I guess it is a bit like the Jehovah's Witnesses, but it's not the same organization. Anyway, thanks for your advice. I guess it's just hard to have the perspective that he must look for God himself when he's convinced that God is somehow in this awful church that denies the truth of God in favor of a bunch of bizarre heresies.
  • He's getting baptized ALREADY?!! Get him to keep postponing it as much as you can. Say "I want to be there with you, but my ankle still hurts". ;)

    In the meantime, someone wise on will come up with a solution and you'll both live happily ever after.
  • Yeah, he's getting baptized already. RIGHT NOW, in fact. He left at 5 a.m. this morning. I couldn't get him to postpone it by mentioning how I couldn't be there. He just said "Don't worry; I'll bring back lots of pictures." Great, great.  :-\
  • Dear dzheremi,
    Don't despair. We often pray for things that we think is for the best, but God doesn't fulfil them straightaway. I guess here you are faced with the opposite, and maybe just maybe God wants to get your father through a lesson. Just don't stop praying, and keep acting as an example to him... that's the best thing you can do right now. Don't also forget to pray for yourself, and for me and my wife...
  • Thanks, Ophadece. I was going to keep doing that, but honestly mostly because I have no idea what else I can do, not because it has such a great track record of working out in immediately-observable ways lately (not that it should have to, mind you; God's ways are His own). Maybe that's what I can learn from all this...that sometimes there really isn't anything more to be done. But that's a tough lesson to learn: Free will being what it is, sometimes someone else's choices just are what they are, and there's nothing you can do. God will do what is best, even when you definitely don't see it. Just don't give up in the meantime, because that certainly won't help anything.

    Granted, I've learned and re-learned this lesson hundreds of times by now. I just wish I was learning it this time in any other way than this particular way! This spiritual maturity stuff, or whatever this is...I suppose it's one of many things that comes as God designs it to, and my job is to receive it joyfully. Okay. I will sing praises to the Lord who in His infinite wisdom teaches me lessons that I arrogantly thought I already knew, in ways that I don't even want to learn them, for reasons that I can't really understand. It's not as though if God Himself appeared before me and told me "this is why this is happening" it would make me happy with the actual action, as there is no way that I can believe that God is guiding my father to reject Him. But anyway, I do recognize that it is part of the process of growing that I not only accept this, but learn to rejoice in it as God's particular action in my life and the lives of my loved ones. So that's just what I'll try to do. I guess I'm just having a really hard time because I am really not there yet. I'm not sure how I'll get there, as this seems just so objectively harmful and dangerous. But I will try.

    Please pray for me, Tasbeha. I will be gone for the next week or so on a trip to Albuquerque. I am bringing my Agpeya, and me and "the old man" will be sharing a hotel room to save money. This should make praying compline pretty interesting...  ;)
  • wow, yr sharing a room together  :-\
    may God guide you and give u peace.

    dzheremi, u know the answers, u posted most of them above, and u posted so many others in yr other posts, so i don't want to hit u over the head with theology that u already know.
    we are standing with u in this really difficult time. i have relatives who are far from God (some to a great extent) so i understand this is really painful.
    yeah, i could beat myself up about how i didn't prevent my friend's trouble with the law or anything else that happened to people i really love that was just terrible, but at the end of the day, i need to accept that they do have a free will to disobey God, and this is by God's design. it is not my job to sort it all out, just to pray, fast, and do my best to give God the glory in everything.

    so, keep the relationship going with your dad, but also give each other respect and space (eg. maybe you can go out for a walk for half an hour while he does his prayer or whatever they do in his cult) and then u can expect him to give u peace and quiet (or go for a walk) when u pray.
    get through each day without worrying about tomorrow, and plan that each day you will mention your love for God in the conversation and also you will show your faith by your deeds of kindness.

    also, how is yr ankle these days? (great memory TITL!)
    may God guide u on the right path, ever closer to Him and his church, and may the prayers of the saints be with you too.
  • MAy God bless us all dzheremi. Remember how many times we pray for Egypt, and what happens keeps happening. God has His own plans that as you say are too high for us to understand. St. Augustine's mother persisted in praying for 20 years for her grown-up atheist son, and look how he turned out to be. You too please mention us in your prayers...
  • If these people really believe the Bible is true then they are hypocrites and cherry pickers. They are very dangerous soul killers, guess who's their master? You should be very careful and pray for your safety as well as your father's salvation. It is a heavy cross you're carrying, may the Lord grant you His help and protect you - it is never too late so pray for him to get a second chance.

    1 John 4
    1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
    2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
    3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
    4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
    5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
    6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

    So who did Jesus say He is?

    Matthew 16
    13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
    14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
    15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
    16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
    17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

    John 14
    The Father revealed in the Son
    7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
    8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
    9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
    10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

    There are many excellent books on the Divinity of Christ and on the Holy Trinity that could be valuable gifts. What man cannot do the Lord can do, He also said His Word is sharper than any sword.

    You can print these verses and send them to your father on few appropriate times in the near future, God willing may be later on his eyes will be opened to discover his error and react. May God strengthen your faith.

  • Well that was interesting. We returned from Albuquerque last night around 10 pm. A few things that happened that make me more pessimistic about this than before:

    - He repeatedly interrupted me during my attempts to pray from the Agpeya, even though it was obvious that I was praying. (It is obvious when someone is praying, right? If someone is bowing and crossing themselves and reciting the Psalms in the same room as you, you'd recognize it as praying, right? I don't understand why this happened!) 

    - He insinuated to the leader of the local chapter of his church that I might one day be joining them!  >:( I immediately contradicted him while he was still on the phone call. "NO. I am not going to." When he got off the phone he just said "You never know, man." And then he tried to engage me in conversation about how good his church is, and how they've changed his life for the better, and blahblahblah. I said I don't want to discuss this with him because it is not my intention to insult him for his personal decisions, but that I don't see things as he does. He looked kind of sad and dropped the issue after that.

    - To kill time before our plane took off, he drove us to a casino to get out of the 100+ degree heat (it was 100+ every day, as it is in the high desert). He used to be quite a successful gambler, but gambling is forbidden in his church. He insisted that we play a few machines, even though I was clearly uncomfortable with the idea and reminded him that neither of our churches condone that behavior. He won $300 which he used to pay for dinner and the exorbitant parking fees at the airport.

    Why do I get the feeling that he does not respect me as a person, and (more importantly, because this I have some control over) why do I let him talk me into doing things I do not want to do just because he is my father?

    I tried to talk to him about the Coptic church, and he just said "I have my church already" and similar things. I'm afraid I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to talking to people about the Church. I wish I had an easier test-case or whatever you'd call it! I am absolutely unprepared to be an apologist or evangelist. I try to witness to the truth as I see it, but either I'm not seeing it correctly, or people take it as a matter of personal opinion because they don't recognize the historical roots of Orthodoxy (which I'm sure I'm deficient in explaining because I'm still learning all of this stuff myself, after all). I think in my father's case it is both, and the fact that I'm his son is not helping. He doesn't seem to take me seriously. Not that I blame him; I keep trying to think of how I'd act if our roles were reversed, and I'm afraid I'd probably be quite similar to him. Combine our personal relation with the fact that his "church", like all modern rebirths of ancient heresies, is aggressively ahistorical in its narrative (their "prophet" is taken to be the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy), and we have a situation that requires someone much greater than me to deal with! (I mean GOD, of course, but how can that happen for someone unwittingly unwilling to follow His will and His Word, as he has chosen something else entirely?)

    Anyway, that's how it went. Now I'm more depressed than ever. I don't even have the slightest clue of what to do. I just keep praying that God guide us both, and guide him away from this heresy that pretends to be the true church of God, but clearly denies the truth of God. I honestly feel like I'm praying into a void, and that any effort that I make will inevitably come to nothing because it is not by God's action, but by an extremely fallible and confused man (me). I know God is in control of all things, but that is so very hard to recognize in this situation, especially in "real time" like in the events I described above. I keep praying because I know it is best. I know that is necessary to be faithful and struggle every day. I just feel that I'm making a very feeble effort at it, and even that is draining me.

    I'm very sorry to use Tasbeha as a personal journal for this topic, as I'm sure that's what this reads like. I really don't mean to, but you're the only Orthodox forum I have right now. When I am in Albuquerque, I will certainly take my concerns to a spiritual father and to the wider community, and they will help me as well. In the meantime, please pray for me, as I am clearly sinful and weak and wavering in faith.
  • + Irini nem ehmot,

    You are in my prayers. When it comes to being an evangelist of the Gospel of Christ, trust me, I wish I was able to preach it as well. I'm sure you are far better than I. However, let your actions be your preaching. Live the Gospel. Continue to pray, to give alms, to serve and to attend the liturgy. Your father 'will see your good works, and glorify [his] Father who art in Heaven'. It may not be today, tomorrow or even 10 years. However, have faith. Never forget the story of Augustine and Monica (his mother). She prayed for 20 years for him before he converted. There is always hope.
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