|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Paganism|
Is constancy towards the Truth “pretentiousness”?
One of the most frequently observed neo-Paganist-Agnostic irrationalities is the following: They accuse the Christian faith of “pretentiousness”, because it claims exclusivity to the Truth and does not admit that it could be mistaken, or that other religions might equally be correct.
We intend to prove the untenability of this accusation, as well as the irrationality that resides within this mentality.
1. Is there such a thing as a pretentious faith?
First of all, we must clarify that pretentiousness is not a characteristic of faith. It is a human characteristic. A faith cannot be pretentious. Its faithful can be. A faith is either true, or it is false. It is very foolish for one to say that “such-and-such a faith is pretentious”, inasmuch as every faith considers itself to be true.
The accusation, therefore, that a faith is “pretentious”, because it claims to be correct, is a two-edged knife for the accusers. Because, when making this claim, they immediately place their own faith in the same situation, as something to be doubted. If it is pretentiousness to believe in something, then it is pretentious to believe it constitutes pretentiousness! If again, they are not so absolute in what they claim, then they cannot use it as an accusation against others! Because their own faith on the correctness of their assertion exposes them as… pretentious !
2. The pretentiousness of the faithful
There is yet another logical error, on which those who make such foolish observations on “pretentiousness” base themselves. However, there is also a truth in here. Let’s begin with that truth:
The truth is that there are people who feel proud to have been born Orthodox, but who display this in a grossly disgusting manner, by rejecting all other people. They are oblivious to the “propagated word” that has been sown almost everywhere and they show no tolerance to another’s faith. A faith which, albeit fallacious, we are nevertheless obliged to respect their right to believe in it, without this meaning that we intend to embrace it. It is one thing to respect a person of another faith, and another thing to actually embrace his faith. We are referring here to people who have projected their ego within the body of the Church, and who believe that because they are members of something (indeed) true and sacred, they themselves are likewise…. “sacred”. This is recognized as the basis of pietism, a so-called “organizational”, or pharisaic behaviour.. This is not a genuine expression of Orthodoxy. It is an egotistical self-gratification of one’s ego, through participation in an ideology (because this is what they have reduced Orthodoxy to). They feel “superior” to others. It would be better for them, if they were members of a club, a political party or a society…
Now, the “logical error” we referred to above, is as follows: We do not claim to be the bearers of the only Truth; we assert that Orthodoxy is the only Truth. And “Orthodoxy” is not us, nor is it the Archbishop, or the Patriarchs, or the Bishops, or the Presbyters. It is the Holy Trinity and the saints (to the degree that they reflect the Uncreated Light). We are merely sick patients that hope to be cured. Therefore: no pretentiousness involved.
If it is pretentious to claim that ORTHODOXY IS THE ONLY TRUTH, then it is equally pretentious to claim that the Sun is the only planet that provides the Earth with warmth, or, that one is pretentious, when drinking water and inviting others to drink also, so that they won’t die of thirst. The water-fountain is there, regardless of what we say! And it will continue to be there, whether we go to drink from it and invite others to drink, or not. The value lies within the fountain, not us.
3. Is it pretentiousness, for one to believe in something true?
Whatever is true must be confirmed as a reality, and not as an ideology or a pretentiousness. Orthodoxy is a psycho-therapeutic method, which has been documented experimentally by its “healed” and enlightened saints who have attained theosis. It is not an ideology, but a way of life and a therapy. It is not an abstract perception of a world-view; it is a Revelation of God to mankind. And being a Revelation of God, it cannot contain errors.
Orthodoxy is the only Truth, and being the only Truth, it must be promoted as such. When there are so many fallacious faiths nowadays that are being projected as “truths”, shouldn’t Orthodoxy be projected even more so? Only the unique Truth has the ability to be presented thus unfeigned, because nobody can find any fault in it, when implementing proper arguments. Faults can certainly be found in the Orthodox faithful, who fail to follow its Truth. But in Orthodoxy itself, which is a Divine Revelation, nobody can find the slightest fault. Not unless one is a sycophant who manufactures faults (as is the case with the neo-Paganists-Agnostics). These “faults” however, when scrutinized carefully, collapse immediately and expose the ones who inspired them.
To embrace a reality and to persist in it is not pretentiousness: it is being realistic! Otherwise, anyone believing that the earth is round would be called pretentious! Likewise, a pretentious person would be one who believes he is alive! So, for one to embrace the simple and unconstrained reality of Orthodox living, is the most natural thing to do! Embrace it, not as a dogmatic ideology, but as a way of life and a therapy that has been proven by time.
4. The syncretist fallacy
Could it be, that it is proper and logical for one to believe that the truth exists inside all manufactured things? Or perhaps, regardless of what one believes, one should also promote varying viewpoints?
For every logical person, the answer to these questions is obvious from the very start. Because, what sane person who believes it is 3 o’clock will tell his neighbor that it is 8 or 12 o’clock? What sane person, if asked where he is, will reply: In Greece and in China and on Mars? What logical person will admit that it is daytime and nighttime simultaneously?
Most certainly, elements of truth can be found in every human-made religion; but none of them represent the complete truth, except for the Truth that has been revealed by God Himself. And it is only logical that if one accepts this fact, it is impossible for him to promote and to mingle elements and faiths that are by definition opposite.
Of course, it is only natural for neo-Paganists to accuse the Orthodox of pretentiousness, when one stops to consider the dogmatic turmoil that they themselves are floundering in. Because, when someone belongs to such a contradictory ideology, which acknowledges one “ancient Greek religion” and yet, cannot come to an agreement with other “co-believers”, not even on the most basic elements of that religion, then the accusatory stance is the only way that neo-Paganists can justify the confusion in their own minds. When we observe how some of them believe that their “gods” are humans that were deified, while others maintain that the same gods are mere “symbolisms”, or that they are “respected myths”, or even “superior, extra-terrestrial beings” and yet, they all consider themselves as “co-believers” of the same religion, well, forgive us, but something is seriously wrong in their ranks ! This is apparent in almost every area of their religion (except for their anti-Christian sentiment, which is common to all of them). The same neo-Paganist mentality strives to soften this irrationality, by claiming their religion to be a “tolerant religion” as opposed to Christians - obviously because Christians have clear-cut and specific positions which have been tested by time and by personal experience, and who have furthermore not adulterated the Truth with various myths and tales!
Only the Truth has the appropriate sensitivity to refuse any collaboration with Falsity. Only the light can scatter darkness. Light and darkness cannot function together. The light always scatters the darkness, and rejects it. That is why so many other false ideologies can only be in unison with various other, more or less false ideologies. Orthodoxy, however, cannot concede to diluting its wine, because it is not an ideology, but a Revelation of God. And whatever is revealed by God is the truth, without any flaws whatsoever. This is why its enemies, being unable to detect any faults, resort to perverting the Truth that it holds, by re-naming the integrity of the Truth “pretentiousness”.
Before closing this article, we would like to remind the neo-Paganists that not even this “syncretism” can be considered an “ancient Greek” characteristic. Because our Greek ancestors (philosophers and polytheists) were not as “religiously tolerant” as the neo-Paganists would like to remember them. They should think back a little, on the persecutions of the philosophers and of the Christians by their ancestral, polytheist “co-believers”; also the burning of books and the slandering amongst philosophers. And let them also think about this: If our ancestors resorted to such extreme acts in support of their ideologies, shouldn’t Christians remain likewise steadfast in their faith (but without any religious fanaticism) - a faith that is a Divine Revelation and not a mere ideology?
And if our idolatrous ancestors were so staunchly dogmatic about their views, how is it possible for contemporary, neo-idolaters to look upon their jumbled mess of beliefs as a display of Gentile mentality?
History and Logic are once again the ultimate judges and refuters in this case…..
Translation by K. N.
Article published in English on: 9-1-2006.
Last update: 9-1-2006.