28th PAN-ORTHODOX CONFERENCE OF THE DELEGATES OF ORTHODOX CHURCHES AND SACRED METROPOLISES ON MATTERS PERTAINING TO HERESIES AND PARA-RELIGION
The 28th Pan-Orthodox Conference of the Delegates of Orthodox Churches and Sacred Metropolises on matters pertaining to heresies and para-religion, which took place under the auspices of His Beatitude Hieronymos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, in the Papastrateion Conference Centre at Agrinion, from the 31st of October to the 2nd of November 2016, graciously hosted by His Eminence Kosmas, Metropolitan of Aetolia and Akarnania, and presided over by His Eminence Ignatios, Metropolitan of Larisa and Tyrnavos, Chairman of the Synodical Committee for Heresies, on the subject: “Heretical and occultist views regarding man and human rights”, has, pursuant to an extensive discussion on the presentations, unanimously approved the following Conclusions:
During the last decades it has been supported by increasingly many that we have already entered the century of anthropology - theology’s preoccupation once again and its special concern for mankind. This means it is necessary that the contemporary theological challenge not only sets out the content of faith, but that it also responds to the opportune question of what man is today, and how his civilization will be preserved.
The Creator brought man into existence out of nonexistence, as a creation “according to His image and to His likeness”. The gift of “according to His image” constitutes the common characteristic of all human beings, while the “according to His likeness” is offered to mankind as the potential for free choice. Body and soul together comprise the whole man, who is perceived as a psychosomatic unity, as a uniform entity. Man is a perfect microcosm, inasmuch as from his very beginning, he recapitulates, unifies and includes the entire universe, given that he has within him all the components of the whole, and that everything was created for him. Man was created for the purpose of perfecting himself and from “the image” be led to “the likeness”. He is a “god-like” creation, as well as a “called-upon god”: that is, he has the calling, the move, and the potential to become deified in Christ.
To the opportune question of our time, as to what a man is, and how his civilization can be preserved, the reply by Orthodox theology is not found somewhere else, nor afar or outside the legacy embodied in the Trust of “the image and the likeness of God”, which is none other than the authentic Man – the Godman, Jesus Christ.
Contrary to the Orthodox ecclesiastic teaching regarding man are all the anthropological delusions, both of the occultist sphere, as well as of the various heretical and para-Christian movements.
The contemporary occultist approach regarding man is a repetition of the demonic exhortation of “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5) and a motivation for contemporary Christians to pursue the things that they had renounced with their rejection during the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. It is a prompting by the “ancient serpent”, that entices man into yet another existential autonomy, a disregard for the Triune God and a promise for new paths to “self-redemption” and “god-likeness”, which have the appropriate guise per case, in a maze of positions, practices and beliefs.
As regards the structure and the synthesis of man, the occultist theory accepts multiple bodies with various names, because the basic principle of the occultist sphere is the assertion that the term “body” does not imply only the visible and material element of human existence. The term “body” is used – in conjunction with other occultist terms – to imply the form and the representation of an organized essence, which expresses itself in a different manner at cosmic levels.
In the occultist beliefs regarding man’s spiritual development, everything depends on his own powers. He is saved by his own actions. God – as perceived in the occultist sphere – remains a non-participating, neutral observer. Everything illegitimate and dark that the morbid, post-Fall and corroded religiosity is able to present is projected by occultism with an excess of arrogance, as its own, endo-cosmic reassurance of the ancient, demonic exhortation of “ye shall be as gods”. At the same time, with the insufferable conceit of an egotistical conscience, it also implements magic ritualistic practices.
A basic chapter of the occultist New Age teaching regarding man is the belief in reincarnation, along with the immediately linked, relentless “law of karma”. According to this theory, every moral responsibility for man’s actions is annulled; a bad person cannot be regarded as wicked, inasmuch as whatever he does or undergoes in his life are not the result of his own free choices, but a “debt” attributed to another, previous life, which is currently being paid back. This abolishes every thought of human freedom, of repentance and of forgiveness. The belief in reincarnation is a purely anti-Christian teaching, which transgresses even the laws of logic. Contrary to this belief, the Orthodox Church believes in the resurrection of man, the forerunner and foundation of which is the Resurrection of Christ.
The occultist approach regarding man absolutely does not coincide with the Christian approach.
The Biblical and Patristic ecclesiastic traditions in their indivisible unity – especially the Neptic experience and the teaching of the holy Fathers of the Church – teach us with clarity that the entirety of arguments and theories on illuminations and practices of the occultist sphere, with the exception of the morbid states of the psychiatric and neurological kinds, are nothing more than inspirations, luminous flashes, actions and methodical approaches of demonic origin.
In the various occultist and para-religious groups with their assortment of practices and approaches (for example, practices for mental manipulation), a brutal trampling on fundamental human rights is involved.
Contemporary heretics’ and para-Christian movements’ beliefs regarding man are founded at times in cacodox and deficient interpretations of Scriptural verses, and at times in more recent, supposedly exo-biblical “revelations” by God (for example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or “Mormons”, Christian Science et al.) Their beliefs are in absolute antithesis to the bearers of in-Christ Divine Revelations, to the Holy Bible and to Sacred Tradition.
In the heretical and para-Christian movements in the field of anthropology, fundamental Christian terminology such as the Fall, sin, salvation etc., have been given a radically different and unacceptable meaning – not only different to the Orthodox Christian teaching, but also to the remaining Christian world.
In the heretical teachings regarding man, no less absent are also the dangerous teachings regarding people’s lives, as are those of the Jehovah’s Witnesses - for example their refusal of blood transfusions for suffering fellow-man; in fact they actually strive to present that dangerous teaching as derived from the Holy Bible.
The anthropological deviations from the Orthodox teaching, as projected by the variously named occultist and heretical movements, wreak negative consequences on both the individuals and on the groups that adopt them.
The Conference unanimously approves the Conclusions stated above and authorizes its Chairman to sign them.
The Chairman of the Conference
†Ignatius of Larisa and Tyrnavos
The Delegates of Orthodox Churches:
The Ecumenical Patriarchate - Metropolitan Damaskinos of Kydonia and Apokoronos
The Patriarchate of Alexandria - Metropolitan Emmanuel of Ptolemais
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem - Archbishop Demetrios of Lydda
The Patriarchate of Russia - Hegumen Feofan Lukiyanov
The Patriarchate of Serbia – Hieromonk Eusebius Meanzia
The Patriarchate of Romania – Prof. Cyprian Stretza
The Church of Greece - Protopresbyter Kyriakos Tsouros
The Church of Poland – Hegumen Varsanuf Doroskyevic
The Host of the Conference
† Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia and Akarnania
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