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A reading of St. Theophan the Recluse's (+1894) homily examining the teachings of St. John the Theologian
0:21 St. John is above all an example and teacher of love
1:03 How contemporary "wise men" abuse St. John's teaching
2:01 The true teaching of St. John and the false teaching of “Indifferentism”
2:50 St. John binds together his teaching on love with God
5:03 On love and faith, and how St. John “categorically rejects those who say, ‘Believe as you want.’”
6:43 Test the spirits…is that compatible with “Believe as you want”?
7:28 The whole essence of Christianity
8:28 These excerpts should be enough, but the “Indifferentists” speak as though they have never read St. John the Theologian
9:14 We must enter into the right state to act properly
10:20 We enter into this state through baptism which gives us power to live a holy life
11:29 Make your life depend on Christ like you do an injection for your health
12:24 St. Theophan’s summary of St. John’s message
12:43 Some may not object to Christian teaching, but are repulsed by Christian institutions, which are “faith in reality and in action.”
13:54 “Only those who have never tasted the Truth can waver in it.”
Read the text here in "Orthodox Life", 1996, # 6:
Learn more about St. Theophan here:
Other recordings of St. Theophan's teachings from Orthodox Wisdom
--Excerpt from "Creation, Early Man, & Evolution"
St. Theophan writes:
In the subject of love St. John is especially well known, and no matter who would begin to muse, about love he would immediately bring to mind St. John as the model of love and turn to him as to a teacher of love.
Now let us examine how contemporary wise men have made use of this teaching. They possess a special kind of vain wisdom called "Indifferentism" by which they reason say: "believe as you like, it makes no difference—just love everyone like brothers, be charitable to them, and have a good influence on them."
What does the will of God consist of? In faith and love: thus the commandment says: "That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another" (1 John 3:23). It does not only command us to love but to believe in the Lord, and in such a way that faith is the source of love. If one were to gather into one all the places where St. John the Evangelist speaks only of love, one could still not confirm his teaching by the false reasoning: only love and believe as you want.
Then there follows the warning: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Herein know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist" (1 John 4:1-3). He who says, "Believe as you want" does not confess Jesus Christ, for if he did confess Christ he would not speak thus. Therefore he cannot be from God. Where then is he from?—truly from the antichrist.
If only they had a clear understanding of how it is indeed possible for man to act in a fruitful way, they would never remain fixed on their teaching. The essence of the matter is—that we are not in the proper state. Therefore we cannot act in the right way. In order for us to act in the correct way we must enter into the right state. By our own powers we are not capable of doing this.... We obtain this state through Holy Baptism, for those who are baptized into Christ have put on Christ. From the time of Baptism we become one with the Lord and begin to live His life and act by His power.
We could summarize thus: he who does not have the right Faith cannot enter into the proper state, and he who does not enter into the right state cannot properly act. Now do you see how one cannot say: "Believe as you wish, only love"?
One is only amazed at how these people so persistently expound about deeds and labors but remove themselves from activity in the realm of holy Faith. There is something amiss here. Surely they are acquainted with the laws of logical thought. There is such duplicity here that one must assume that they are not in fact doers, but are acted upon—they are the tools of a foreign spirit, and such a spirit that is itself foreign to Truth.
Brethren, having understood this, let us guard ourselves from the evil reasoning of this world. Only those who have never tasted the Truth can waver in it. Let us fulfill with humility and in the spirit of truth all that our holy Faith demands. Then we will have, and carry within, a witness which will bring to naught all false arguments from without. May the Lord illumine us by His Truth. Amen.
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