Elderism, Futurism, and Prophetism

Not a month or week goes by without a new prophecy emerging about things that will supposedly happen on a local or even national and international level. This phenomenon, which is widely spread in Greece but also has been transplanted here in the United States though the Ephraimite movement of extreme fundamentalism, can be descripted with three words: elderism, futurism, and prophetism.
It has to do with “prophesies” and “statements” of various monks, who either died in distant past or even recently, or are still alive on Mount Athos and elsewhere. Such is the case of elder Ephraim here in the United States, who has filled the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese through the country with Monasteries.
These “contemporary prophets” prophesize just about anything, you name it. They prophesize about the economic crisis in Greece, for example, although it is already occurring. They prophesize about the political crisis or that the blessed Race of Greeks will reclaim the Queen City of Constantinople. These simplistic charlatans can do harm not only to innocent and uneducated people, but also to nations.
Understandably, the economic crisis in Greece has significantly changed the mindset of many who struggle to survive, and many of them have lost faith. Thus, they search for some ray of hope to hold on to, or some kind of “supernatural” explanation of what is happening in order to justify their fears.
Thus, the prophesies of various elders and monks find their way into the hearts of many hope seekers. They are even willing to engage in extreme fanatical religiosity that absolutizes the elders’ “prophetic futurism.” Once an elder says it, that’s it. No questions asked.
A huge industry of futurism has been created, and in some cases an industry of miracles that urges hundreds if not thousands of faithful to form long lines over the graves of various elders. Many attach their ears to the grave, hoping to hear some sounds from within the grave supposedly coming from the dead elder in question. The books of such elders become bestsellers and, of course, many “smart” religious industrialists become rich in the name of a twisted Orthodoxy.
There is a dangerous trend today of creating a sick “Orthodox guruism” in the name of spirituality and elderism. Many elders today tend to replace even Christ and His Church. We have arrived to the point of a total cultish culture to “worship” people of little or no Theological Education at all, simply because they wear cassocks, and grow long beards and hair. This has become a “spirituality of the hair.” They speak and preach on a simplistic Sunday School level, yet appear to their followers to speak with authority and infallibility.
They use the sacrament of holy confession just to get control over the lives of their followers, demanding from them total and blind obedience. They take away the freedom of their “spiritual children” and dictate to them how to live their lives to the extent that the elder even decides their personal choices, including their sex lives. Of course, the elders demonize the human body and human sexuality.
The elder makes all of their decisions. He has complete control over their lives because “he knows best” regarding their spiritual well-being. The spiritual children don’t really care about the teaching of the Church or the writings of the New Testament. They only care about what the elder thinks and says. They don’t read the Bible, but instead they read the elder’s fairy tells.
These uneducated smallminded fundamentalists have become the drama and the trauma of our Orthodox Church, and no one seems to have the boldness to confront them and teach them that Orthodoxy is not a fundamental ideology of some sadistic God who is ready to punish the people. The God of the Orthodox Church is the source of love. It is Christ who comes as “fierce lover,” as Bridegroom in the middle of the night because He loves us all as we are.
In our case here in America, we are confronted with similar sickening fundamentalist mentalities. Many of our clergy have been influenced by the simplistic teachings and pseudo-pietism of the certain monastics to the point that many parishes have been poisoned. It seems that “a parallel Church” has been created along with the canonical Church. Many clergy teach and even appear externally as some type of “Orthodox Isis,” with long beards and hair. They go out into the world, into stores wearing their cassocks and kalimavhion (clerical hat) causing our fellow American citizens to look at them strangely, not knowing who they are and what they represent – which is particularly significant in these times.
Similar situations at the Holy Cross Theological School are really alarming. And yet, no one seems to care – prompting the question: what kind of a Church are we going to be in twenty years from now?


14 Comments

  1. We must be reminded that the GOC in America in not self-governed. It is under the Turkish department of education. Our ancestors fought their way out of Turkey . Turkey, however, has not gotten out of Greece.
    The New Testament was written in Greek. Students in Protestant schools of theology study Greek. We here in America are not promoting the study of Greek. On the contrary, we are shutting down Greek schools. We need new leadership, not leader-sleep!

  2. Mr. Kalmoukos,
    Once again you have “hit the nail on the head”!
    The Greek Orthodox Church in America is the Body of Christ. Your article points to the problem, unfortunately those who “lead” us are not the ones to implement a solution. I agree with your assessment that our Church is on the decline and I would go even further and tell you and your readers we are past the tipping point. Not only are the “leaders” showing all of us their personal weakness in not confronting this. It is worse, they have swept their investigation into the issue under the rug. Perhaps your newspaper can do an expose into the none reporting of the Monastery Task Force (MTF) later renamed the Monastery Review Committee (MRC). Here there were both findings and reports generated. WHERE ARE THEY? Sadly, we are all at the mercy of the Hierarchs on this issue. Clearly they want the Church to die, otherwise there would be an effort made to root out the problem. We should see that by the Church disintegrating we are all losing. But for the Hierarchs to allow this to happen, where we all lose, it is only logical that someone else is gaining. The Ephraimites will have history to deal with. Those who fostered the growth of this heresy will have the death of the Church laid at their feet. In some Metropolises, like Chicago, the willful blindness goes beyond the “leaders”, it is our laity as well. The Ephraimites have an army of troops within the Clergy. All ready to destroy what God has built in order to carry out the goals of their personal Messiah!

  3. Mr. Kalmoukos,
    Once again you have “hit the nail on the head”!
    The Greek Orthodox Church in America is the Body of Christ. Your article points to the problem, unfortunately those who “lead” us are not the ones to implement a solution. I agree with your assessment that our Church is on the decline and I would go even further and tell you and your readers we are past the tipping point. Not only are the “leaders” showing all of us their personal weakness in not confronting this. It is worse, they have swept their investigation into the issue under the rug. Perhaps your newspaper can do an expose into the none reporting of the Monastery Task Force (MTF) later renamed the Monastery Review Committee (MRC). Here there were both findings and reports generated. WHERE ARE THEY? Sadly, we are all at the mercy of the Hierarchs on this issue. Clearly they want the Church to die, otherwise there would be an effort made to root out the problem. We should see that by the Church disintegrating we are all losing. But for the Hierarchs to allow this to happen, where we all lose, it is only logical that someone else is gaining. The Ephraimites will have history to deal with. Those who fostered the growth of this heresy will have the death of the Church laid at their feet. In some Metropolises, like Chicago, the willful blindness goes beyond the “leaders”, it is our laity as well. The Ephraimites have an army of troops within the Clergy. All ready to destroy what God has built in order to carry out the goals of their personal Messiah!

  4. God bless the author of this article…

    As someone who was recently abused by yet another “elderism” group – Dionysiites, at their Maryland nunnery near Washington, D.C. – I beg the hierarchs, the journalists, and God Himself to interfere, on behalf of survivors (and I personally know several).

    The damage being done to the individuals and to the Church as a whole is hard to measure.

    It’s devastating to wake up from a nightmare of brainwashing and total control by a “spiritual father” who ends up not only abusing you emotionally, psychologically, but also molesting you sexually, all after a period of so called “grooming”, and under the guise of complete obedience to him – and under fear to be expelled/ ostracized/ banished from the monastery by the abbess who is fully aware of what kind of sicko your “spiritual father” is.

    I agree with the commentator as well. The sickness of “elderism” is being spread throughout our parishes by so called “friends” of the monasteries…
    I was introduced and driven to the cultish monastery by a fellow parishioner, who has been swearing by their “supreme specialness” [well, indeed!] for years.

    In the case of followers of archimandrite Dionysios Kalampokas however, the sphere of influence is not limited to the Greek Church in America. The nunnery, *currently* under the omophorion of Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II, is making appeals to many ethnic churches – Antiochian, Serbian, Albanian, Russian and so on.

    The poison of their “elder” heresy is a trap for many impressionable, vulnerable, young and old Americans, searching for Christ but ending up in a devil’s snares.

  5. There is a deeper and wider problem here, but we are not ready to accept: the traditional understanding of Orthodoxy, Christianity in general, is dying! We have not been able to distinguish and separate tradition(s) from true Tradition as a source of our Faith. Most clergy adhere to old (but deep rooted) notions, that “ΤΑ ΡΑΣΑ ΚΑΙ ΤΑ ΓΕΝΕΙΑ ΚΑΝΟΥΝ ΤΟΝ ΠΑΠΑ!” They may not be happy with playing a hypocritical role, but it’s a lot easier this way to validate their existence with comfortable salaries and other perks. A lot easier to make a weekly bulletin full of “services” (daily Liturgies, paraklisis, etc.) attended by 3-5 people instead of going out to meet people and the challenges they’re facing.

  6. The elders of the church do not need a theological education in the formal sense — their education comes by the grace of the holy spirit through their lives of sacrifice and asceticism. the fact that they are uneducated is what makes it so amazing. And throughout Orthodox history people have flocked and listened to these sorts of elders. Perhaps in today’ society we are to egotistical to allow someone else to have a say in our lives?? Obedience is a tenet of the faith and leads to the great virtue of humility that we all seek. I for one grew up in the American Greek church and i see churches that have kept to the same old practice of Greek American orthodoxy dwindling in numbers bc they do not offer a depth that our beautiful faith has.

    and if you want to speak about Arizona or the “Ephraimite” issue. I think it is a non issue. Monasticism is a vital part of Orthodoxy and without any monasteries here it was well needed. I have visited Arizona twice- first as a skeptic bc of reading opinions such as this and hearing from priests that it is no good so i went to “come and see” on my own and was astonished as to what i found. The vast numbers of Orthodox people coming from around the entire world when there are monasteries in their own countries speaks volumes. And what made me go the first time was being in Greece and being asked at two different monasteries, one in Epirus and one in Meteora, how is it that i am in America and have not visited Arizona. So that got me thinking and i thank God i went.

  7. Theodore kalmoukos say truths that patriarchs, hierarchs don’t want to talk about. When Kalmoukos gets out of his comfort zone of disseminating Hellenism, Greek linguistics, Hellenic culture and the Greek ghetto he makes sense which we deeply appreciate. Our church here in the USA has been at a standstill, on hold, without local leadership since the removal of Archbishop Iakovos and the Istanbul and Athens takeover of our destiny. There is no fix on the way because of narcosis, indifference and the maintenance of “business as usual” by the governance forces who are leading us to the unknown.

  8. I am not sure if this went through – so I am reposting:

    Fr. Vlahos you are a man of conviction and courage. Quite a difference from the shallow comments made by “Greek in Chicago” which appear to be based on a comfortable (if not smug) sense of emotion, and not logic.

    No one is arguing about the virtues of Monasticism. It is a vital and beautiful component of Orthodox Christianity. However it is not the only component. Emotional fanatics like to distort the message of those who are concerned about the abuses of Monasticism, or the abuses of men of poor character who occupy lofty offices.

    No need of education of elders? Wow. Let’s go back to the dark ages. Do people like “a Greek in Chicago” also believe the world is only 6,000 years old? Ignorance should not be institutionalized, although it seems that it is. Education is a must that is undisputable amongst normal people. Additionally, men who are to be considered for lofty offices of Hierarchs, and perhaps even Abbots, should have some record of achievement beyond degrees. Men in these positions should have a record of achievement that tangibly illustrates their character. I want hierarchical leaders that have a track record of 20 or more years as a proistamenos (senior pastor) in a parish – and prohibiting a glorified paper pusher that needs anti-depressants because the stack of papers is too high, or, prohibiting a village idiot, from being elevated to the lofty office of a hierarch.

    As far as Abbots in Monasteries, I would hope that we can install abbots who are not distorting the message of Monasticism into a place that usurps and undermines the work of the local parish. I would hope we can install Abbots who are healthy and well adjusted. I hope we can install abbots that are obedient to the Metropolitans, the Archbishop, and the Patriarch. I do not think we should install Abbots (or Hierarchs) that are clandestine megalomaniacs.

    In a word, I hope and pray that we have leaders one day that raise the bar of our standards. Leaders by example. This is not the leadership we have today. Instead, we have leaders that inspire people to be village idiots also.

    1. when you insult someone bc of their personal convictions of what they haveexperienced that is pretty immature and makes your argument baseless. thank you for proving yourself

  9. Dear “Greek in Chicago”,

    The exchanges between you and Mr. Pappas are interesting. Can you and I agree that the hierarchy of the Metropoulos in Chicago are failing? I would like to know your thoughts. Your assertion that obedience is a tenet of our faith is incorrect. Obedience is a tenant of monasticism. It is not to be imposed upon the laity. The problem that we’re facing is that these uneducated monks have now crossed a line. They have introduced their theology of monasticism to the laity. The Ephraimite movement has imposed and mandated blind obedience upon the laity. I am a cradle to grave Orthodox Christian. I love healthy monasticism. What I don’t love is something that pretends to be healthy that’s not. What I also loath is people who completely disregard vast amounts of evidence of improper theology being sponsored by a movement that is causing many to leave the church. Many believe that much of this theology/practices are non-canonical and heretical. I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of the homilies of St. John Chrysostom and contrast that with the practice of instructing married couples beyond child birth to no longer have relations and live his brother and sister. I know many people who have received such instructions. This notion is foreign to Chrysostom’s teachings. I was at a parish with a priest was the spiritual son of the elder. He destroyed the place. This is happening in parish after parish as the hierarchs cower in a corner hiding. Don’t fool yourself and believe that it’s all about proper theology and practices. Any movement that wants to replace the parishes with 100 monasteries is destroying the church in North America.

    Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to your thoughts about the hierarchy in Chicago.

  10. @yianni Pappas@basil312@greekinchicago
    “Total purity is the foundation for theology.” “When a man’s senses are perfectly united to God, then what God has said is somehow mysteriously clarified. But where there is no union of this kind, then it is extremely difficult to speak about God.” St. John Climacus, Ladder. Step 30.CWSp.228

    To my knowledge, there is no man or woman – currently, whose senses are perfectly united to God…not in our churches!

    Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ tells us; if “we” are to be worthy of Him, we must be willing to take up our cross and follow “Him”. The “we” in the previous sentence means all of us…including hierarchs, monastics, and the laity. Struggle,humility, prayer, and faith is the reality in Orthodoxy-Christianity. I do not need someone who has not walked two meters in my shoes talking to me about struggle – it’s the one thing I am very experienced at. I will carry my own cross!! Thank you very much!!!

    Stay focused on Christ and His cross – Become proactive in your own salvation

  11. I think it is time to expose all those, monasteries, elders who abuse the laity, sexually, psychologically, and spiritually. They should all be brought to justice. We are aware of The Ephraimite movement, now St. Nina, in Maryland. the problem, that I see, they all have re-enforcement’s; Many are brain washed. Those who speak out, thank you. Every time I mention this I get attacked, by many calling me all kinds of names, etc…I really do not care. The Truth does hurt. everyone speak out, if you have or know of others, go to the media, let them ( the people) see what is actually happening. God help us all.

  12. Mike,

    Here is an article you will want to read about hoe the Ephraimite movement takes over a parish:

    http://gotruthreform.org/gameplan

    The people that operate that website in Chicago have a wealth of information about what you are experiencing at your Parish. I understand that there is a growing Ephraimite movement at the following two Parishes in Maryland; the one in Darlington and the one in Silver Springs, is that correct? Also try going to the website: WEAREORTHODOX as an additional resource. Good luck with this. I watched my Parish get overrun by these “Greek Orthodox Taliban”.
    I have seen a number of people just leave our Church over this issue.
    Basil312

  13. In the 80’s, when Geronda Ephraim was preaching in the living rooms of the faithful, he “prophesied” that the antichrist would use holograms to deceive the faithful. As an example, he stated that during extreme torture, the spiritual child may see a hologram of Geronda Ephraim telling them to deny Christ. He also “prophesied” about subliminal messages and stated that those who went to confession would not be affected or harmed by subliminal messages. These were themes explored in Christian fundamentalist movies of that time period…nothing original.

    In ’95, Geronda Ephraim “prophesied” that the “false union” between the the Orthodox and Catholic Church would take place in a few years. In ’99, he had a “strong feeling” that it would happen the next year. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, whenever Pascha fell on the same day for Catholics and Orthodox, Geronda Ephraim would also get these “strong feelings.” For the last 30+ years of his homilies, it has always been “right around the corner” but has yet to happen in any of the timelines he has proposed. “The peoples’ repentance has postponed it”

    In 1997, during a homily to the Arizona monks in the Gerontikon, Geronda Ephraim “prophesied” that the antichrist would make his first appearances in New York because it has the highest Jewish population in America and it is the HQ of the dark powers. This contradicts the patristic teaching that the antichrist would first appear in Jerusalem in imitation of Christ.

    During the 90’s, when simple pilgrims would ask Geronda Ephraim or Geronda Paisios (AZ) about the pseudo prophecies concerning the “marble-king” and his sword, they would respond that the sword is almost completely out of its sheath (i.e. WWIII and other apocalyptic prophecies would soon be fulfilled). None of the early saints of the orthodox church reference or accept these prophecies. Even St. Nikodmeos rejects these prophecies (i.e. St. Andrew Fool for Christ, St. Methodios) and says they’re full of heresies and contradict scriptures. The acceptance of these prophecies are a 20th century phenomena, perpetrated by Athonite monks who were disciples of Apostolis Makrakis.

    During the 90s/00s, the books of St. Porphyrios and St. Paisios were boycotted at the bookstores of the AZ, TX and NY male monasteries. These saints severely criticized Geronda Ephraim. They felt he was deluded and they did not agree with his teachings on absolute, blind obedience, among other things. So, in 1998, the abbots of the above monasteries agreed not to sell any of their books (despite getting boxes upon boxes of free books from Greece about these two saints). The other motive was to put more emphasis on the English translations of Monastic Wisdom and Counsels from the Holy Mountain. The boycotts ceased many years later. Now the monastery party line is that these two saints praised Geronda Ephraim, they considered him the last saint of the orthodox church, etc. Now that these two saints are dead, as well as many of the faithful who heard their criticisms of Geronda Ephraim during the 70s and 80s, not too many people can verify these claims. The abbots and abbesses under Geronda Ephraim will not admit these things now, though they use to talk about them during the 90s.

    As part of his prophetic gift, Geronda Ephraim also tells his disciples that he can “astral travel” so to speak to check up on his monasteries and followers. During one homily to a group of Montrealers in the Arizona trapeza, he stated, “See, I’ve left twice and you didn’t even notice” to demonstrate the magnificence of his “gift”.

    The other “prophetic gift” Geronda has is “knowing the hearts of men” and “seeing the hidden sins” of those who come to him. In scientific circles, this is a con called “cold-reading” and after almost 60 years of practise, he has perfected the technique quite well!

    https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/cold-reading-how-to-convince-strangers-that-you-know-all-about-them-ray-hyman-1977/

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