1. Is there such a thing as a Church
of the "pure"?
In Israel of old, there were many who were unfaithful and
hypocrites, in spite of the fact that this people was, at the
time, the Church of God. The Apostle Peter tells us that
exactly what happened with ancient Israel would also happen with
This is described in the entire chapter of 2 Peter 2:
were also false prophets among the people, even as there
will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in
destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought
them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And
many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the
way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By
covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for
a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their
destruction does not slumber.4 For
if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast
them down to hell and delivered them into chains of
darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and
did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one
of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in
the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and
turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes,
condemned them to destruction, making them an example to
those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and
delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy
conduct of the wicked 8 (for
that righteous man, dwelling among them,
tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and
hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the
Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and
to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of
especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust
of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous,
self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of
dignitaries, 11 whereas
angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a
reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and
destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand,
and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will
receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it
pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and
blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they
feast with you, 14 having
eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin,
enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in
covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They
have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the
way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of
unrighteousness; 16 but
he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with
a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These
are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for
whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of
emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh,
through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from
those who live in error. 19 While
they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of
corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he
is brought into bondage. 20 For
if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world
through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter
end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For
it would have been better for them not to have known the way
of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the
holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But
it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A
dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed,
to her wallowing in the mire.”
The Apostle begins this chapter by mentioning that there
would be false prophets among the Christians - just as there
were among the people of Israel - and that because of their
behaviour, they would become the cause for the path of the Truth
(the Orthodox Church of the Lord) to be blasphemed. They would
create heresies, they would be greedy and would also exploit
their brethren, according to verses 1 and 2.
In verse 9, it says that all of them will receive their just
deserts on the day of judgment, while the righteous and faithful
Christians will be duly rewarded. But also, this obviously implies
this ugly situation would be prolonged, through to the day of
Therefore, there would be no Church with "only the pure", as
certain pietistic groups assert.
In verses 10-14 and 16, the Apostle Peter says that those
pseudo-Christians would be interested only in their immoral
pleasures and in blaspheming, and would be exploiting the faith for
material gain. And finally he compares them to pigs, inasmuch as
after being cleansed through Baptism, they fall once again into
the bog of sin; and that they would also be like dogs that
return to eat their own vomit. (verse 22)
Clearly, (according to verse 21), it would be better for them
to not have become Christians at all, rather than become
Christians but continue sinning INSIDE THE CHURCH. Here,
the Apostle is referring to those
who would be Christians only in name.
Does the Apostle say anywhere here that God would reject even
the righteous for the sake of the irreverent? Of course not!
This sycophantic idea that turns against God can be found only
in the morbid imagination of those who want to justify their
existence as "Christians", outside of the Orthodox Church.
What does Jesus Christ teach us? In Matthew 13:24-28
and 36-43, He narrates a parable - the parable of the sown wheat
and the weeds (the "tares"). In there, it is more than clear that
even though Jesus Christ sowed the wheat (that is, the genuine
Christians), Satan was also sowing weeds in the space of God's
Kingdom - the Church. Those "weeds" were to multiply - until the
end of Time - together with the wheat. (verse 39)
It is interesting, that the servants of God ask for His
permission to uproot the weeds from the Church, leaving only the
clean wheat (verses 28-30). And indeed, throughout the
duration of Christianity's history, there have been many who
endeavoured to create a "church of the pure", by removing the
pseudo-Christians (the "weeds") from that church. But the
Lord was categorical, when He said:
while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with
them. Let both grow together until
the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the
reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in
bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn'."
He clearly specified that both the wheat and the weeds
should be left to multiply
until the harvest. Then, at the time of harvest (the end
of Time) they would be separated by the Angels (the "reapers").
They will be collecting all the scandals from within God's Kingdom, and
will burn them in the fire.
But, these groups that we are speaking of did
not wish to listen to the words of the Lord. They wanted
to separate the weeds from the wheat
on their own,
and thus create a "church of the pure". However, not only
did they fail, but they even reached the point of regarding
genuinely Orthodox Christians as "weeds", thus blaming the
Orthodox Church of the Lord as a whole. In this way, they
ended up separating even themselves from the "field" of the
Church, by composing their own rules of justice. They did not
trust the words of the Lord Jesus. They sought to
undertake the labour that was assigned only to the angels.
They also did not wait for the Lord at the Day of Judgment;
instead, by regarding themselves as equally capable of reading
people's hearts like God, they opined that the Church of the
Lord was unworthy, and that they had to isolate themselves from
Her. They then made a "field" of their own,
but soon discovered that it too had weeds in it!
Except that now, they do not abandon their own "field", but
instead, they say "What can we do? We are just sinful people!"
To avoid every possible case of
misunderstanding, the Lord Jesus Christ repeated the same thing
in another parable:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast
into the sea and
gathered some of every kind, which,
when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and
gathered the good into vessels, but
threw the bad away. So
it will be
at the end of the age.
will come forth, to separate the wicked from among the just..."
Anything else that may be said will be
redundant. So, if someone disagrees with the words uttered by
Jesus, he must first show us a "church" that is comprised ONLY
of good fish, without a single bad one. He must also prove
to us that the people in his religion were
chosen by angels;
but more importantly,
he has to prove to us that the end of the age has already come!
if the angels had indeed separated them, then there is no excuse
whatsoever for any conversion of their members, from "wheat" to
"weeds", given that the outcome of the angels' selection is
final and eternal
(Matthew 13:42-43, 50).
2. The fruits of the tree
But, one may ask: "Then why did Christ
you can tell a tree by its fruit,
a good tree bears good fruit while a bad tree bears bad fruit?
Doesn't that indicate that you can tell a true religion from its
fruits? (Matthew 7:16-20)
If we pay attention to the meanings in this
verse as well as His very words, we will see quite clearly that
the "tree" of which the Lord speaks is not every religion, but
every prophet or false prophet. It is what He says in
verse 15 as well: "Beware
of false prophets...".
Besides, if He was implying religion, the verse would not have
made any sense; there is no such thing as a "Christian" religion,
of its followers bear
good fruits, or
The good and the bad can be found in every place!
What we should be asking, is: "Why this
distorting of Scriptural verses?" The answer is obvious:
"So that the Church of the Lord can be accused".
3. Observations and criticism
These pietistic groups, who believe that they
must proceed with such a labour of separation, have concocted
various methods in order to present themselves as the "church of
One prevalent method is the
of their followers. When one of them sins and is detected, the
rumor is propagated and everyone begins to criticize the sinner.
Most of them will keep less and less company with him and thus
eventually force him to either comply with - or depart from -
or, to feign piety.
Another method is the
or excommunication of the unruly member. When someone is
disobedient and the others learn of this, they make sure that
the "pastor" of their team learns of it. However, when
they do not know the disobedient individual,
they deny that he has any kind of relationship with their
- He is not one of ours! You must be
making some sort of mistake!
they will say.
But, if they are told that there is evidence
the "unruly" one belongs to their team, they will say: "He
is not a Christian! You can't regard him as a member of ours,
because we only accept as members of our "church" those who live
Christianically. This person has distanced himself on his own,
and is no longer ours. HE HAS LEFT US, FOR THE WORLD."
The group's hypocrisy is now more than
obvious. Why do they measure with double standards? Why don't
they say the same thing about the Orthodox Church of the Lord?
Why don't they say that "those who are unruly have distanced
themselves and are not regarded as Orthodox" ? Instead,
they prefer to claim that "the Orthodox tolerate the bad ones"
and that "the Identity Cards of criminals state 'Christian
Orthodox'." Now, why don't they remember the ID
cards when it comes to members of their own religion?
To them, when it is about a bad "Orthodox" person, it becomes
important what the ID card states, and not his conduct. But when
it comes to a bad member of their own faith, his conduct is
important, and not the statement on his ID card,
in order for them to agree that that person belongs to their
team. If they were consistent with themselves, they would
likewise say about the Orthodox, that "a true Orthodox is the
one who lives Christianically, and not by what it says on his ID
card". That way, they wouldn't have left the Church of the
Lord because of scandals, nor would they have used scandals as
an excuse for their departure.
The Church does not expel
anyone, in the manner that Her Shepherd exemplified (John
one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."
But these groups DO EXPEL. They do not follow
the example of the Lord Jesus Christ - Who left the 99 sheep in
order to find the one that was lost - nor did they ever
understand the Gospel. They are instead following the example of
the Pharisee, who, instead of repenting over his own sins,
looked for faults in others and vindicated himself.