Wednesday, 14 February 2007


Our old friend ‘Anonymous’ posted the following comment on our post Orthodox Monasticism 14 — The Charism of Discernment. His first paragraph is a quotation from our post, something he wants to discuss. The square brackets in that paragraph are his own interpolation, where he explains what we ourselves mean by clairvoyance. After the first paragraph ‘Anonymous’ continues on his own. Here is his comment:

On pp. 27 – 33 of Wounded by Love, Elder Porphyrios describes his reception at the age of 16 of the Holy Spirit in power, his resulting illumination, and his simultaneous reception of the gift of clairvoyance [Deep Spiritual and Prophetic Discernment]. These things were transmitted to him through another Athonite Elder, Elder Dimas, without Elder Dimas’ having anything to do with it: the Holy Spirit ‘jumped’ from Elder Dimas to the young monk without Elder Dimas’ knowledge. Why? How? Who knows?


Do you know why they can receive nothing in the HOLY Spirit? Because they have no understanding of what is to be in the Radius of the Divine Radiance of a [HOLY] Spirit-Bearer and to receive an Impartation!

They ask the same questions about Seraphim of Sarov and Motovilov - how could Seraphim of Sarov shine and how could Motovilov see his shining face - the Impartation that comes from being in the Radius of the Divine Radiance of a [HOLY] Spirit-Bearer!

The reason Dimas was oblivious to this is because he was having what the Salvation Army used to call a "Glory Fit", he was in an ecstatic state BUT this young man was secretly watching him and asked in his spirit to receive the same Mantle, the same Anointing and dared to believe for an Impartation! in and from the HOLY Spirit and they keep asking why??? how??? who knows???


The greatest sadness is that it is what the Salvation Army used to call a "Glory Fit" - I wish they had those fits today! The last experience I had of this of this type of BURNING Anointing was the Toronto Blessing ALTHOUGH it is now happening at Bethel Church, Redding, California - Marvellous!!!

‘Anonymous’ is a little more sophisticated than we might think. He knows who St Seraphim of Sarov is; he knows the gist of Motovilov’s experience with St Seraphim. He knows what ecstasy is, and can compare ecstasy in the Hesychast context to a ‘Glory Fit’ in the Salvation Army. He uses in English literal translation the Greek patristic term ‘pneumatophoros’, using square brackets to add the English word ‘Holy’ that he knows is not used by the Greek Fathers (although it is implied by them). He also knows how to use a word which is in the OED but which we had never seen before—‘impartation’. He writes in good English.

And, he thinks, he knows what we ourselves, ‘Orthodox Monk’, do not know: how it is that the Holy Spirit jumped from Elder Dimas to the young boy who was later to become Elder Porphyrios.

Here we would like to point out that ‘Anonymous’ is in error on a certain point. He alleges that Elder Porphyrios ‘was secretly watching [Elder Dimas] and asked in his spirit to receive the same Mantle, the same Anointing’. However, Elder Porphyrios himself recounts that he didn’t know anything whatsoever about the Holy Spirit. Recall that Elder Porphyrios came to Mt Athos an illiterate boy of 12 and that the event took place when he was 16. Elder Porphyrios clearly implies in Wounded by Love that the ‘jump’ of the Holy Spirit from Elder Dimas to himself was a spontaneous sovereign movement of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3,8). He says that the reason the Holy Spirit ‘jumped’ to him was because of his obedience to his own Elders, Panteleimon and Ioannikios.

Let us clarify just what the ‘Toronto Blessing’ is. Here we excerpt an article by a Dr Nick Needham, a Baptist minister and seminary teacher. The ‘Dr’ refers to his PhD from the University of Edinburgh. We have taken these excerpts from, which appears to be a website run by members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. We really don’t know anything about the website, about Dr Needham, or indeed about the ‘Toronto Blessing’: we are not sociologists of American religion. But here is what the article by Dr Needham in part says:

The Toronto Blessing (or TB, as it is now often called) is a worldwide spiritual movement within Pentecostal and charismatic churches. It is named after the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada, where the movement first hit the headlines in January 1994. …

… This outpouring happens when a leader, who has already received the blessing himself, then passes it on to others, usually in a meeting of a church or in a larger gathering of believers from various churches. These leaders, especially the more well-known ones, are often referred to as "anointed men," and the blessing itself is also often called the "anointing," or a "fresh anointing." …

[Comment of Orthodox Monk: This appears to be what ‘Anonymous’ means by ‘to be in the Radius of the Divine Radiance of a [HOLY] Spirit-Bearer and to receive an Impartation’.]

TB advocates claim that the blessing or anointing has two main effects on believers: (i) It brings them a fresh and overwhelming sense of God's love, which leads to wonderful joy; (ii) It lifts people up to new heights of spiritual life, so that they begin to walk much closer to God, praying more, reading the Bible more, evangelising more, etc.

If we look at what actually happens when people receive the blessing, the immediate observable effects—we see the following:

(i) Almost without exception, people fall over onto their backs, sometimes gently, sometimes as if struck by a bolt of electricity. Those who fall sometimes black out. This phenomenon has of course been around for a long time in Pentecostal and charismatic circles, and is referred to as being "slain in the Spirit."

(ii) Often those affected are seized by a spirit of uncontrollable laughter. This laughter can last literally for days. On The Coming Revival video, Rodney Howard-Browne reports a man who (to use his language) got drunk on the Holy Spirit and laughed uncontrollably for 3 days. This particular phenomenon is referred to as "holy laughter," and it has been so widespread in the TB that it has sometimes been called "the laughing revival."

(iii) Often, but by no means always, when the blessing is imparted in a meeting, some will respond by making noises and bodily movements like various animals. In the early days of the TB, the most common of these animal manifestations was "roaring like a lion." However, this is in fact only one of many animal manifestations which have been observed. I myself have witnessed people gibbering like monkeys, barking like dogs, howling like wolves, and screeching like cats. Here is a description by a person who is in favour of the TB:

That room sounded like it was a cross between a jungle and a farmyard. There were many lions roaring, there were bulls bellowing, there were donkeys, there was a cockerel near me, there were sort of bird songs ... Everything you could possibly imagine, every animal you could conceivably imagine you could hear.

There are other physical phenomena, such as holy drunkenness (staggering about as though drunk), dancing in the Spirit (tap-dancing, ballet dancing), running on the spot, and bouncing up and down like a grasshopper. However, these three—falling over, hysterical laughter and animal manifestations—these are the main physical manifestations of the blessing or anointing.

As for the inner spiritual or emotional experience, there is no reason to doubt that many people do feel an overwhelming sense of being loved, and tremendous feelings of joy and euphoria. …

The TB originated within something called the Faith Movement in the U.S.A.

…[A]lmost all the spiritual phenomena and experiences which are now called the TB were in fact already taking place under the ministries of men like Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard-Browne and Kenneth Copeland years before the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church took these things on board. …[I]t was Rodney Howard-Browne who transmitted the blessing or anointing to the Toronto Airport Vineyard, and Howard-Browne has been closely linked with the ministries of Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.

… [L]et's get a clearer picture of what the Faith Movement actually believes and teaches—what its doctrines are. … We can summarise these teachings thus:

Faith in faith: "Faith" is an independent spiritual force, a basic law of the universe. God Himself is a "faith God:" He created the universe by His faith. This involved God in visualising the universe in His imagination, and then speaking it into existence with "faith-filled words"—saying "Let it be" and believing that it would be. …

[Comment of Orthodox Monk: This doctrine of faith in faith appears to be the basis of this remark of ‘Anonymous’: ‘…this young man was secretly watching him and asked in his spirit to receive the same Mantle, the same Anointing and dared to believe for an Impartation! in and from the HOLY Spirit.’ [Emphasis added.]]

Little gods: Adam in paradise was God's equal; he was "God manifested in the flesh," the god of planet earth. Man has no independent nature of his own; all he can do is share either in God's nature or Satan's. By giving in to Satan, Adam lost his godhead to the devil who thus became (quite rightly and legally) "the god of this world." And by his sin, Adam experienced a diabolical rebirth, acquiring Satan's nature. But through Christ, man regains his lost godhead and becomes as much an incarnation of God as Jesus Christ was. The believer is another Christ.

[Comment of Orthodox Monk: This appears to be the basis of this expression of ‘Anonymous’: ‘Radius of the Divine Radiance of a [HOLY] Spirit-Bearer’.]

Incidentally, many "Faith" teachers, eg. Rodney Howard-Browne, say that Christ abandoned His true deity when He became man. On earth, He merely partook of God's nature in the same sense that innocent Adam did, as a perfect man. Jesus was not God in the flesh, but a Spirit-filled "prophet under the Abrahamic covenant."

Atonement atrocities: Most Faith Movement teachers deny that Christ's death on the cross saves sinners. What really happened on the cross was that Jesus actually became sinful: He took on Himself the spiritual nature of Satan, thus being transformed from a divine to a demonic being—the same thing that had happened to Adam in Eden. This doctrine of the cross is often referred to in shorthand as "JDS"—"Jesus died spiritually." The real atonement took place after Jesus died. For the demonised spirit of Jesus literally went into hell itself, where He was tortured by demons for three days and three nights. Then Jesus was spiritually reborn in hell, recovering His lost divinity and defeating Satan. The same rebirth is granted to the believer, who is thus liberated from his satanic nature and becomes a god.

Wealth and want: Poverty is part of the curse of the law from which Christ has delivered believers. Christ Himself, when he was on earth, was a millionaire; he had so much money that He had to appoint Judas as His finance manager, and the reason why no-one noticed that Judas was stealing was because there was just so much money in the money-bag. Many Faith teachers require their followers to give them money with the promise that God will repay them tenfold. Such giving is called "sowing a seed of faith,"

Sickness and suffering: These too are demonic powers from which Christ has delivered believers. We must then claim our healing by faith, speak our health into existence by positive confession. Because man is essentially a spirit who merely lives in a body, sickness and healing are essentially spiritual and not bodily realities. So if physical symptoms of illness persist after we have claimed our healing, that is Just what our bodily senses tell us; we must deny this sense-knowledge by the higher spirit-knowledge of faith, which knows that healing has truly occurred in the spiritual realm.

We ourselves do not have the charism of the discernment of spirits. However, if we were to go to an Elder of the Orthodox Church and ask him to discern a spirit that moves people to a state where they are ‘gibbering like monkeys, barking like dogs, howling like wolves, and screeching like cats’, he would undoubtedly throw us out of his cell bodily for being an arrant fool, saying something to us like: ‘Come back when you have a serious question.’

If we were to put our foot in the door and to refuse to stop talking so as to tell him the doctrinal points listed above, he would probably stamp really hard on our foot and tell us that it is all covered in Theology 101 and why are we wasting time that he could be spending in tears over his own sins or in prayer for the salvation of the world?

Now it is conceivable that Dr Needham is an idiot who doesn’t understand the ‘Toronto Blessing’. As we said, we are not sociologists of American religion. But we did note on the Internet that the church in Toronto where the ‘Toronto Blessing’ started was drummed out of the Vineyard group of Pentecostal Churches (third-wave, we think).

When Elder Porphyrios describes in Wounded by Love his own reception of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing about barking like a dog. Where he lived the only things that bark like dogs are the ubiquitous jackals. Elder Porphyrios does speak of meditating on a song that a nightingale is offering to God in the quiet of the forest.

What is the significance of our reader’s comment? Well, given his relative sophistication, it is not out of the question that our reader is Orthodox. It is not out of the question that he is an Eastern Rite Catholic. It is not out of the question that he was at one time New Age. It is not even out of the question that he is an Orthodox monk.


Because St Seraphim would be known in those circles, along with the Conversation with Motovilov. We doubt that an Evangelical or Pentecostal would be familiar with the Conversation with Motovilov.

Moreover, because the fellow has some education: he knows how to use square brackets; he knows difficult words; he knows the underlying Greek for ‘[HOLY] Spirit-Bearer’.

So what’s the point? Unless the fellow is pulling our leg, which is not impossible, he is deceived. Plani is Greek for deception.

The best thing he could do is get to an Orthodox priest.

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