AN ΑΝΑΤΟΜY OF CONTEMPORARY RELIGIOSITY
By Lambros Skontzos, Theologian - Professor
It has been ascertained that mankind is currently suffering from an unprecedented spiritual confusion. The cosmogonic changes that took place around the end of the previous century signaled the thunderous bankruptcy and breakdown of predominant ideologies, Marxism, Nihilism and godless Existentialism.
Without a doubt, the breakdown and bankruptcy of these atheistic and materialistic systems had - as a direct consequence – contemporary man’s about-face towards religion. In countries where atheism (and in fact forced atheism) was predominant, we have observed an unexpected blossoming of religiosity. Former atheists – mostly Marxists – after being “left homeless” turned to religiosity; except that this religiosity to a large extent was not a “healthy” one, but rather a morbid state of soul and spirit animated by an unprecedented mysticism and occultism. On account of their being inundated by the dogmas of atheism and eudemonism for decades, it has been difficult for them to approach wholesome religiosity – much less to embrace the Christian faith which presupposes conditions and restrictions.
Mysticism and occultism are their substitutes for faith in God, with a preference to believe that faith in “occult powers” - which supposedly exist either in the inner person or in nature - supposedly play a principal role in man’s life. It is in fact touted by the promoters of occultism, that the turn towards faith in “occult powers” constitutes a supposed “spiritual revolution”, which will signal the “liberation of man from the monotheistic yoke of the past two millennia”!
This “spiritual revolution” has been named “New Age” by the leaders of worldwide occultism, and has been linked to the weird, primitive and irrational beliefs of astrology. Apparently somewhere towards the end of the previous century, they claim that we “entered” the “New Age of Aquarius”, given that (according to their absurd claims) the “course” of our solar system every two thousand years shifts into one of the celestial zodiac signs and each time, that it signifies an entry into a “new age”. The previous “age” was the “Age of Pisces” – that is, of Christianity – since the fish symbolized Christ, and the encrypted code word «ΙΧΘΥΣ», was used by the first Christians during the period of persecutions recognize one another. The code word “«ΙΧΘΥΣ» is interpreted as an acrostic for «Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ» (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour). It was on account of this sacred Christian code word that the occultists had “baptized” the Christian era as “Age of Pisces”. Thus, according to their claims, with our entry into the third millennium A.D., the “precession” has “taken” us into the astrological sign of Aquarius, launching the “New Age of Aquarius” and leaving behind forever the “Age of Pisces” – along with Christianity! It is necessary to mention here that all these claims have no scientific basis whatsoever and are merely arbitrary definitions by occultists. No self-respecting scientist shares these unsupported and childish theorems.
According to the occultists, the “New Age of Aquarius” introduced mankind deterministically into a “new spiritual course”. It supposedly brought the “much-desired freedom that man has been seeking for entire centuries”. “It has revealed the so far sevenfold sealed secret” that “man is god” and that he is called upon during this “bright period” to become aware of his “godhood” and to “utilize it, to ensure his bliss”!
It also “revealed” another “significant hidden truth” (the absolute lie of course), that “there is no personal God”, only a nebulous “impersonal energy”, and thus man is invited to discard his fear and his anxiety over any worldly or posthumous punishment. Additionally, faith in reincarnation has provided yet another spark for eliminating fears regarding post-mortem consequences, since man is supposedly forever governed by “cosmic karma”, which “fulfils” through worldly hardships. Besides, along with the personal God, every code of ethics has also “died”, since the “New Age” does not recognize the existence of “good” and “evil”, only the success -or not- of man’s “self-realization”! Incidentally, we might point out here that all these beliefs are the resultants of oriental religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Lamaism, Taoism, etc..), which have invaded the western world and have dominated the westerner - who has never savoured spirituality - with their own particular “spiritualities” and practices.
In occultism and mysticism, the place of the “impersonal God” has been replaced by “mystical powers” – be they astral (astrological occultism), or terrestrial (nature-loving occultism). What is noteworthy is that albeit new-age occultism and esotericism deny the personal hypostasis of God, they accept personal astral and terrestrial occult powers, which supposedly play a determining role in mankind’s life.
In order to “tame” those powers and “benefit” from them, it is necessary for followers to exercise the so-called “occult arts” such as magic, spiritualism, divination, astrology, yoga, transcendental meditation and a wide range of old and new forms of superstition; and all of these linked to faith in reincarnation, which is the
“New Age’s” fundamental “metaphysics”.
It is more than obvious to us Christians that these “powers” are nothing other than demonic powers – unclean spirits – whose exclusive job is to alienate humans from faith in God and His Grace, and to eventually forfeit their salvation!
Within this cadre, we have observed in recent years an increase in the numbers of “managers of occultism” – i.e.: sorcerers, spiritualists, mediums, diviners (Tarot cards, numerology, cartomancy, coffee reading etc.), astrologers, pseudo-therapists, e.a., who, “at a price”, inevitably “manage” the religiosity of thousands of people. We have reached the stage where every neighborhood now has its own coffee-reader, its own medium, astrologer, even hypnotist! Even worse, they have inundated the Mass Media with advertisements of themselves, without being in danger of legal action against them – even though (beyond their occultist practice), there is always the element of defrauding gullible “customers”. Cases of fraud and exploitation of the naïve by such “managers of occultism” are not few, and quite often the lights of publicity do fall on them, evidencing the morbid state of contemporary religiosity.
Standing in the face of occultism’s contemporary, spurious religiosity is our Christian Faith – and in fact its genuine form, our Orthodoxy. Half a century ago, the blessed American Orthodox Archimandrite and contemporary saint – Fr. Seraphim Rose – had foreseen this blossoming of spurious religiosity; however, he had also foreseen something else – something promising: that our Orthodoxy will be the prominent faith of the 21st century! We therefore look forward to mankind becoming aware of its mistaken spiritual course and discovering the true “light of the world” (John 8:12) – our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour and Redeemer of the world, Who can be encountered and lived inside His Church, our Orthodoxy, the One, Holy Universal and Apostolic Church – His only, true Church!
Source: Periodical “DIALOGOS”
ISSUE No. 95
Informative Periodical of the Inter-Orthodox Union of Parental Initiatives
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