I don’t usually do a review of tracts, but I so enjoyed Christianity Or The Church? by Archbishop Ilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church that I wanted to share my favorite passages. While it discusses many topics, the main one is why participation in the Church and its sacraments are absolutely necessary for salvation.

All legal societies perish

…a society formed on a legal basis always carries within itself the seeds of its own decay, for it guards egoism which constantly corrodes all unity. The fate of the tower of Babylon is the fate of legal society. In such a society there must frequently occur a “confusion of tongues” when people stop understanding each other even though they speak the same language. Legal order often gives place to terrible disorder.

The necessity of the Church

Outside the Church and without the Church, Christian life is impossible. Without the Church, the Christian teaching alone remains as an empty sound, for Christian life is Church life. Only in the life of the Church can a person live and develop.

[…]

…the perfection of the human personality depends upon its belonging to the Church as a living organism, undergoing growth through the beneficial and abundant influence of the Holy Spirit. If the bond with the body of the Church becomes severed then the personality which is thereby isolated and enclosed in its own egoism will be deprived of the beneficial and abundant influence of the Holy Spirit which dwells in the Church.

[…]

According to the words of Saint Cyprian, to be a Christian means to belong to the visible Church and to submit to the hierarchy which God has placed in it. The Church is the realization of Christ’s love and any separation from the Church is a violation of this love, in which both heretics and schismatics sin equally.

[…]

He who does not adhere to the unity of the Church cannot think that he is preserving the faith. Any separation from the Church is, without fail, connected with the distortion of the faith.

[…]

“On the Unity of the Catholic Church,” we read the famous words, “He who does not have the Church as his mother cannot have God as his Father.” Saint Cyprian completely refuses the name “Christian” to all those who stand outside the Church, as if repeating the decisive exclamation of his teacher Tertullian: “haeretici christiani esse non possunt!”—heretics cannot be Christians!

I’ve tried to imagine how my Christian life would be without the Church, without receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, without having my falsehoods and errors checked with priestly guidance, and without praying in one voice with other Christians. Without all that, my faith would boil down to a narcissistic and prideful activity like bodybuilding, of working on my soul completely alone like I would my body in isolation, constantly checking myself in the mirror to see how holy I am compared to others who are so “weak” and “misguided” to need to experience the sacraments within God’s temple with other sinful human beings, and very soon my faith would not even consist of prayer but a collection of vague intellectual beliefs about God’s plan for salvation and totally delusional ideas about how close I am to God.

The Body of Christ

“Christian faith joins the faithful with Christ and thus it composes one harmonious body from separate individuals. Christ fashions this body by communicating Himself to each member and by supplying to them the Spirit of Grace in an effectual, tangible manner. Thus, the Spirit of Grace descending on each makes him what he ought to be in the body of Christ’s Church. Christ’s body being harmoniously fit together through this gift of the Spirit, builds itself up in proportion to the measure in which each member answers his purpose or acts for the welfare of the Church in all the fullness of the gift of Grace received.” [St Theophan the Recluse]

Importance of baptism in the Church

The fact that forgiven sins return if there is no brotherly love is clearly pointed out by the Lord when He spoke of the servant whom the master forgave ten thousand talents. When this same servant did not take pity upon his fellow who owed him only one hundred dinars, the master demanded the payment of all that was owed him. Just as this servant had received forgiveness of the debt for a time, so one who is baptized outside the Church is also freed from his sins for a time. Since, however, he remains outside the Church even after baptism, all the sins which he committed before being baptized are again imposed upon him. His sins are forgiven only when he, through love, unites with the Church.

[…]

For Saint Cyprian, the baptism of schismatics upon being received into the Church was not re-baptism at all, but precisely baptism. “We maintain,” he wrote to Quintus, “that we do not rebaptize those who come from there, but we baptize; for they have received nothing there where there is nothing.” He adds that baptism outside the Church is only “an empty and impure immersion.” “There, people are not washed, but are only profaned more; sins are not cleansed, but are only redoubled. Such a birth promotes children to the devil and not to God.”

Upon being received into the Orthodox Church through baptism, many people asked why I was “re-baptized” since I was also baptized in the Armenian Church as a child, and to that I must state that I’ve only been baptized once in my life. It is impossible for anyone to be baptized twice, for either the first baptism was valid, and the second baptism was done in vain, or the first was not valid, and the second was the true baptism. I am currently with the Church that I believe offers true baptism to all.

Protestantism

Protestantism, having carried over the basis of humanism into the religious field, was not a protest of genuine ancient Church Christian consciousness against those forms and norms which were created by medieval Papism, as Protestant theologians are often inclined to claim. Far from it; Protestantism was a protest on the very same plane. It did not re-establish ancient Christianity, it only replaced one distortion of Christianity with another, and the new falsehood was much worse than the first. Protestantism became the last word in Papism, and brought it to its logical conclusion.

[…]

Protestantism placed a papal tiara on every German professor and, with its countless number of popes, completely destroyed the concept of the Church, substituting faith with the reason of each separate personality. It substituted salvation in the Church with a dreamy confidence in salvation through Christ in egoistic isolation from the Church. In practice, of course, Protestants departed from the very beginning and by roundabout ways, by contraband, so to speak, introduced some of the elements of the dogma about the Church, having recognized some authorities, although only in the area of dogma. Being a religious anarchy, pure Protestantism, like all anarchies, turned out to be completely impossible, and by that, testified before us to the indisputable truth that the human soul is Church-prone by nature.

Protestantism tried to correct Catholicism but made something worse. It won’t be long until many of its denominations descend into something like a religious atheism.

“Influences” on Christianity

For those who believe in Christ, however, all this talk about various “influences” on Christianity is completely senseless. The essence of Christ’s activities, as we have seen, is not at all in teaching, but in salvation. God sent His only-begotten Son so that we could receive life through Him (cf. 1 John 4:9; 5:13). Even though insights of truth which are close to Christianity can be found in the teachings of earthly philosophers, it was Christ Who renewed human nature, created the Church, sent down the Holy Spirit and thus established the beginning of a new life which no mortal philosopher could do. The descent to earth of the Son of God and His death on the cross were indispensable for the creation of the Church; and all those who separate Christianity sooner or later come to the blasphemy of the denial of Christ the God-man and they come to it because the divinity of Christ becomes unnecessary for them.

It’s blasphemy to say that Christianity took from other sources, as if Christ learned from human minds. Before Christ, there were some philosophies that were closer to the truth than others, and since all truth comes from God, some of their teachings would be similar to what Christ taught. The Stoics, for example, had a philosophy of worldly detachment, which is indeed God’s will for us, but Christ did not get his teaching on worldly detachment from the Stoics; the Stoics got it from the fountainhead of truth, either from stumbling upon it through trial and error, or because they were enlightened and given a proto-grace by God.

Absurd notion of “revival”

Now, there is too often talk about the insufficiency of life in the Church, about the “reviving” of the Church. All such talk is difficult to understand and we are very much inclined to acknowledge it as completely senseless. Life in the Church can never run low, for the Holy Spirit abides in it until the end of time (cf. John 14:16). There is life in the Church and only churchless people do not notice this life. The life of the Spirit of God is incomprehensible to a person who perceives solely with his mind; it may even seem foolish to him, for it is accessible only to a person who perceives with his spirit. People who are of an emotional mode of thinking seldom receive a feeling of the Church-conscious life; yet even now there are people, simple in heart and pious in life, who constantly live by this feeling of the abundant, Grace-filled life in the Church. This atmosphere of Church life and Church inspiration can especially be felt in monasteries.

A relatively quick read, this article is a great summary of basic Orthodox precepts that also disputes common claims of those who falsely teach of Christ. Click here to read it.

Read Next: What Is Orthodox Christianity?

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“Influences” on Christianity​

For those who believe in Christ, however, all this talk about various “influences” on Christianity is completely senseless. The essence of Christ’s activities, as we have seen, is not at all in teaching, but in salvation. God sent His only-begotten Son so that we could receive life through Him (cf. 1 John 4:9; 5:13). Even though insights of truth which are close to Christianity can be found in the teachings of earthly philosophers, it was Christ Who renewed human nature, created the Church, sent down the Holy Spirit and thus established the beginning of a new life which no mortal philosopher could do. The descent to earth of the Son of God and His death on the cross were indispensable for the creation of the Church; and all those who separate Christianity sooner or later come to the blasphemy of the denial of Christ the God-man and they come to it because the divinity of Christ becomes unnecessary for them.
It’s blasphemy to say that Christianity took from other sources, as if Christ learned from human minds. Before Christ, there were some philosophies that were closer to the truth than others, and since all truth comes from God, some of their teachings would be similar to what Christ taught. The Stoics, for example, had a philosophy of worldly detachment, which is indeed God’s will for us, but Christ did not get his teaching on worldly detachment from the Stoics; the Stoics got it from the fountainhead of truth, either from stumbling upon it through trial and error, or because they were enlightened and given a proto-grace by God.

Fr. Daniel Sysoev also talks about the original revelation which was given to Adam and passed onto Noah and his descendants, who became the patriarchs for all tribes on the earth. The non-Hebrew tribes had some of the original truth but intermingled it with fallen angels according to their own desires. This would explain why we sometimes see common elements in non-Christian, non-Hebrew religions.

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Wow

Some of that was strong, let's say ...

John 3:16

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"Now, there is too often talk about the insufficiency of life in the Church, about the “reviving” of the Church."

Really? I've never heard the word "revival" used explicity for the Church. (And I've only ever heard Protestants use the word.) I thought it meant revival in the community where the church was located, in an effort to get non-believers to convert.

On Protestantism: I don't know how anyone gets to Heaven through Protestantism. It's like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. They only have 2 (or fewer) sacraments! And I think most of them don't even realize marriage is a sacrament. I need frequent confession and communion in order to not fall away.

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“On the Unity of the Catholic Church,” we read the famous words, “He who does not have the Church as his mother cannot have God as his Father.” Saint Cyprian completely refuses the name “Christian” to all those who stand outside the Church, as if repeating the decisive exclamation of his teacher Tertullian: “haeretici christiani esse non possunt!”—heretics cannot be Christians!

I was saddened to read that, as someone who does not attend a church. Although I regularly pray for the Church and its leaders.

I guess that would mean I am not a Christian.

It also means the words below do not apply to me and this forum, which is also sad to me. This must be another way God is getting me to focus less on this world, and more on the next. And to pray even more, even if I am a misguided heretic.

One never knows how deep the deception of Satan runs. I guess it is possible that all my prayers are heretical garbage and my feeling of closeness to God is actually the false consolation of the devil. Now there is something to think about.

So I guess the words below apply to me and the invisible community of saints and angels, and currently no one else. One day you and I will meet together in agreement (or so my heretical brain tells me). But I guess that won't be today.

God bless you, Roosh. Your articles definitely give me food for thought.

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore."

Edit: I realized my prayers can't be heretical, because I read most of them word for word from the back of the Orthodox Study Bible, and the rest are plain Scripture. But, the consolation I receive could be the pure deception of Satan. There is no way around that, except by making arguments from Scripture, which doesn't work in this context.

I can accept being a heretic. What choice do I have? I have the faith God gave me. I pray He can still use me for good in one way or another.

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On Protestantism: I don't know how anyone gets to Heaven through Protestantism.

Maybe we are all going to hell, I don't know.

"Though He slay me, yet shall I praise Him..."

I know my life was saved from hell on earth by reading the Bible and prayer.

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delete - meant to quote the article.

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Originally posted on RooshV.com


I don’t usually do a review of tracts, but I so enjoyed Christianity Or The Church? by Archbishop Ilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church that I wanted to share my favorite passages. While it discusses many topics, the main one is why participation in the Church and its sacraments are absolutely necessary for salvation.

All legal societies perish​

The necessity of the Church​

I’ve tried to imagine how my Christian life would be without the Church, without receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, without having my falsehoods and errors checked with priestly guidance, and without praying in one voice with other Christians. Without all that, my faith would boil down to a narcissistic and prideful activity like bodybuilding, of working on my soul completely alone like I would my body in isolation, constantly checking myself in the mirror to see how holy I am compared to others who are so “weak” and “misguided” to need to experience the sacraments within God’s temple with other sinful human beings, and very soon my faith would not even consist of prayer but a collection of vague intellectual beliefs about God’s plan for salvation and totally delusional ideas about how close I am to God.

The Body of Christ​

Importance of baptism in the Church​

Upon being received into the Orthodox Church through baptism, many people asked why I was “re-baptized” since I was also baptized in the Armenian Church as a child, and to that I must state that I’ve only been baptized once in my life. It is impossible for anyone to be baptized twice, for either the first baptism was valid, and the second baptism was done in vain, or the first was not valid, and the second was the true baptism. I am currently with the Church that I believe offers true baptism to all.

Protestantism​

Protestantism tried to correct Catholicism but made something worse. It won’t be long until many of its denominations descend into something like a religious atheism.

“Influences” on Christianity​

It’s blasphemy to say that Christianity took from other sources, as if Christ learned from human minds. Before Christ, there were some philosophies that were closer to the truth than others, and since all truth comes from God, some of their teachings would be similar to what Christ taught. The Stoics, for example, had a philosophy of worldly detachment, which is indeed God’s will for us, but Christ did not get his teaching on worldly detachment from the Stoics; the Stoics got it from the fountainhead of truth, either from stumbling upon it through trial and error, or because they were enlightened and given a proto-grace by God.

Absurd notion of “revival”​

A relatively quick read, this article is a great summary of basic Orthodox precepts that also disputes common claims of those who falsely teach of Christ. Click here to read it.

Read Next: What Is Orthodox Christianity?
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From above banned user:

I was saddened to read that, as someone who does not attend a church. Although I regularly pray for the Church and its leaders.

I guess that would mean I am not a Christian.

It also means the words below do not apply to me and this forum, which is also sad to me. This must be another way God is getting me to focus less on this world, and more on the next. And to pray even more, even if I am a misguided heretic.

One never knows how deep the deception of Satan runs. I guess it is possible that all my prayers are heretical garbage and my feeling of closeness to God is actually the false consolation of the devil. Now there is something to think about.

So I guess the words below apply to me and the invisible community of saints and angels, and currently no one else. One day you and I will meet together in agreement (or so my heretical brain tells me). But I guess that won't be today.

God bless you, Roosh. Your articles definitely give me food for thought.

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore."

Edit: I realized my prayers can't be heretical, because I read most of them word for word from the back of the Orthodox Study Bible, and the rest are plain Scripture. But, the consolation I receive could be the pure deception of Satan. There is no way around that, except by making arguments from Scripture, which doesn't work in this context.

I can accept being a heretic. What choice do I have? I have the faith God gave me. I pray He can still use me for good in one way or another.

Maybe we are all going to hell, I don't know.

"Though He slay me, yet shall I praise Him..."

I know my life was saved from hell on earth by reading the Bible and prayer.

Greetings Roosh,
Informative and well-written article, as usual.
I noticed the above user was banned after his recent posts. May I ask, as a Protestant who also currently does not attend a church, if there are any specific guidelines you might have for Protestants who wish to reply to your content?

It appears the user above was trying to come to terms with certain parts of your article, in particular the idea that he is not a Christian. I read the forum rules, but it seems there might be a finer level of etiquette required on these topics to avoid getting banned.

From Rule #7, "You are also not allowed to have heated debates with a fellow Christian for his views, dogmas, or doctrines. Do not emotionally argue with fellow Christians or initiate theological debates. Do not share non-Orthodox views with those are inquiring into Orthodoxy."

Perhaps the reply was considered a heated debate? Or, he was deemed as sharing non-Orthodox views with those inquiring, since many are reading these posts? In that case, should we steer clear from stating any non-Orthodox views anywhere on the forum, except the specially-designated Non-Orthodox sub-forum? These would include major areas of Protestant thought.

Perhaps this is confusing to me because as a believer in Jesus Christ and the truth of Christian scripture, I view myself as a Christian, so I am trying to get some clarity. Maybe I am being too simple-minded.

I have been reading your work and this forum for quite a few years and look forward to conversing. I would like to be crystal clear about anything I should specifically not say, as I mentioned I am also Protestant and do not attend a church (maybe there are quite a few of us, since the integrity of Protestant churches has suffered). Thank you for any guidance you can give.

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About my earlier comment, "On Protestantism: I don't know how anyone gets to Heaven through Protestantism", looks like someone took exception to it.

If that person is still following the thread, please know this: It was not meant to be a condemnation of Protestantism. I was sincerely expressing my own ignorance!

I am not saying Protestants cannot get to Heaven, just that my own experience as a Protestant did not end well. I fell away from the faith and became very worldly, similar to Roosh in his manosphere days. Thanks be to God I am back in Mother Church, with all the sacraments.

The world, the flesh, and the devil are very difficult adversaries to overcome, and frequent participation in the sacraments of reconciliation and eucharist are wonderful graces for which I am eternally thankful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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I have been following your work since 2018, Roosh, and I am confused by your article.

The Canadian pastors who are being jailed for preaching from the Bible. And the groups of truckers holding hands and praying for help to Jesus Christ. In your view, are these not Christians?

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I wanted to clarify, Roosh, as I am new on the board. I said 2018, after thinking more it's been since at least 2016 or earlier that I've been following your work.

Your return to the faith of your ancestors in a time of severe affliction was probably 95% of why I did the same about a year later. So you can be sure anything I say to you is coming from a place of love, gratitude, and admiration.

I come from a family of English and Irish Protestants going back to the earliest days the Reformation spread to the British Isles. I was taught to be a Christian by my dad, who diligently led our family in prayer on a daily basis when I was growing up.

I did hope to confirm your view on my question to you in my earlier post. Whether you choose to reply or not, I wish you the best.

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Why not read what Jesus Christ specifically said about his churches? Revelation chapters 2 and 3 list seven different churches and they are mostly rebuked (hence little wonder why his own letters are ignored).

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I have been following your work since 2018, Roosh, and I am confused by your article.

The Canadian pastors who are being jailed for preaching from the Bible. And the groups of truckers holding hands and praying for help to Jesus Christ. In your view, are these not Christians?

They are Christians, but they are not Orthodox Christians.

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Unfortunately archbishop Illarion pushes the covid vaccine madness by saying that those who refuse it are commiting sin:

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Me getting this round of dang near paralyzing pneumonia was a test by Satan for me to see God's glory in his church. I will be furthering my faith, no longer on the road as a truck driver slamming gears, but as a broke college student working menial jobs again:laughter: I am glad that he humbled me, as i do miss seeing my church family...Question though @Roosh what are your thoughts about our economic system and how it's designed to push profit so hard that we forget about our Christianity ? Truckers have it rough to maintain a spiritual life, if you're ever open to discussing these things about us asphalt nomads, I'd be more than willing to share some musings with you about it. Thank you for the excellent article like always, May the Saints and our father God watch over you.

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Truckers have it rough to maintain a spiritual life, if you're ever open to discussing these things about us asphalt nomads, I'd be more than willing to share some musings with you about it.

I'd be interested to hear more about this. What exactly is it that makes spiritual life difficult for truckers?
I'd imagine being long hours on the road would be an excellent opportunity to practice the Jesus prayer.

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I'd be interested to hear more about this. What exactly is it that makes spiritual life difficult for truckers?
I'd imagine being long hours on the road would be an excellent opportunity to practice the Jesus prayer.

Prayer is the easy part. But communion with other saints is nigh impossible

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I was a lurker and enjoy (enjoyed?) reading your articles. Then I decided to join the forum. Why was I banned simply for pointing out the fact that archbishop Illarion pushes the covid narrative? Here is the video and text where he explains: https://www.vesti.ru/article/2584212
I'm Russian, but you can use a web translator and see for yourself. I guess I will be banned for this post too without any explanation?

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Prayer is the easy part. But communion with other saints is nigh impossible

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. In solitude we can always rely on Him. I have been through long periods of solitude myself and it is very difficult. It also helps to remember we are never alone, since the community of saints and angels watches every move we make, and the Lord knows our thoughts and hearts better than we know them ourselves. This knowledge is all we have to live on in solitude. As Jesus said "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

Edit: maybe another way to say this is, don't be afraid to rely on your "imaginary friends," since if those are Jesus, your ancestors, the saints, and angels, they are not imaginary at all. You are surrounded by a world of conscious beings at all times.

May God be with you.

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There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. In solitude we can always rely on Him. I have been through long periods of solitude myself and it is very difficult. It also helps to remember we are never alone, since the community of saints and angels watches every move we make, and the Lord knows our thoughts and hearts better than we know them ourselves. This knowledge is all we have to live on in solitude. As Jesus said "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

Edit: maybe another way to say this is, don't be afraid to rely on your "imaginary friends," since if those are Jesus, your ancestors, the saints, and angels, they are not imaginary at all. You are surrounded by a world of conscious beings at all times.

May God be with you.

I'm no longer trucking like i once was. It's a blessing in disguise honestly,... Thank you for your kind words albeit.

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