August 30, 2012

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”—because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3: 28-30)

In Matthew’s version of this teaching Jesus forgives even blasphemies against himself as the Son of Man. But to say acts of healing and goodness—as displayed in the ministry of Jesus—come from an “unclean spirit” destroys the foundation of life in God, because that makes good and evil indistinguishable. It says that no one can really tell black from white, good from evil. Truth, beauty, goodness, love—all those things we think we recognize are delusions. A big question mark is placed over all of them.  We can never say for sure then that anything is inspired by God. And therefore we lose all possibility of discernment. Worse, some authority now has to tell us what is good and what is evil because we have lost the ability to discern the Spirit’s work.

Sirach says, “Many are the wiles of the crafty…for he lies in wait, turning good into evil, and to worthy actions he will attach blame” (Sir 11:29,31). George Orwell’s 1984 describes even more frighteningly the doublethink and newspeak that undermine sane discernment. Take the newspeak word “blackwhite.”

...this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.

There is no better image of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America


This weekend the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (FOCA) is gathering in Myrtle Beach, SC for its annual convention. Bishop Michael of New York, Father Eric G Tosi and Andrew Boyd (Youth Department) will be representing the OCA central administration.

For those unfamiliar with FOCA, it is a pan-Orthodox ministry under the umbrella of the Orthodox Church in America. It was founded in 1927 by Father Vladimir Prislopsky, grandfather of Nicholas Ressetar, current editor of The Orthodox Christian Journal. FOCA’s main emphasis over the decades has always been on creating a social network among Orthodox Christians, especially youth. On a broader level its mission is to “proclaim, share and reveal our Orthodox Christian Faith through service, fellowship and example.”  They do this by:

  • studying the tenets of the Faith
  • supporting and encouraging Orthodox Youth ministries
  • supporting and encouraging missionary growth of our church
  • encouraging and promoting unity among all Orthodox jurisdictions
  • establishing practical means for Orthodox Christians to create lasting friendships on local and national levels through networking
  • providing educational, cultural, social and athletic activities for the people of our Orthodox Faith

Most recently FOCA has started a campaign to raise funds to help Saint Tikhon’s Seminary build housing for married students.

We as the OCA need to re-invigorate our youth ministry and FOCA will be an important part of that. FOCA chapters are found in scores of parishes throughout the US, and if your parish is looking for a way to connect with others, especially in the area of service and youth work, then you should be in touch with the FOCA representatives in your region.