Outwardly, most can see that the Church is being persecuted by various entities: governments, religions, etc. What is not so clear is the danger posed by those within.
To wit: If one asks a zealous Christian in the mostly Protestant South whether he thinks there is equal truth amongst Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians, the asker will likely hear a decisive No. Christians have the truth, he will say. So far, so good.
But ask that same believer which of the various Christian denominations in the world has all the correct beliefs and practices, and one will likely hear something quite alarming: that it doesn’t really matter what one believes about most of the doctrines as long as he believes in Jesus Christ as his personal savior and that the Bible is the inspired word of God.
So there is a dilemma that needs to be solved: Do these Christians believe in absolute truth, or not?
If they do, then they must decide where it resides. With the Southern Baptists? The Missionary Baptists? Seventh-Day Adventists? Presbyterians? Anglicans? So-called non-denominational sects? It cannot lie within all of them, for they all have different teachings on various doctrines: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, clergy, alcoholic drinks, etc.
As it stands, they proclaim it up to a certain point only: They will not accept the errors of those outside what they consider to be Christianity, but they will accept errors within it. Truth is relative within most of the Protestant communions: Not everyone gets everything right, but that’s okay. The Church is made up of fallen human beings, and we’re just doing the best we can.
Only that is not the best we can do. To affirm such things is to say that God has not given His Church the Truth. Our Lord Jesus Christ says of the Church, “ . . . the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (St Matt. 16:18). And about the Holy Ghost guiding the Church, the Lord Jesus says, “ . . . when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (St John 16:13). And the Holy Apostle Paul says of the Church that she is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15).
To accept the idea that it is quite alright for the various Christian confessions in the world to be riddled with errors is to affirm that the gates of hell have prevailed against the Church, that the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Church was insufficient to keep her from error, and that there is some other source of absolute truth in the world other than the Church.
Furthermore, if one accepts relativism within the Church, on what basis can one defend against relativism between Christianity and non-Christian faiths? There is some truth in nearly all of them, too. If having only part of the truth is sufficient for salvation within the Protestant circle of believers, why is it not sufficient for those outside of it? What need is there in becoming a Christian?
These are the abysses and chasms into which modern Western Christianity is falling. But they are only fulfilling the doom set upon Western civilization since the Popes of Rome severed the Western European peoples from the Orthodox Church, the one true Church of Christ in this world, in 1054 A.D., and introduced the idea of deciding the dogmas of Christianity by individual whim rather than the consensus of the Holy Fathers.
By the great mercy of God, the Orthodox Church has kept the fullness of the Faith. Her history is full of holy confessors and martyrs who refused to yield to heretics and schismatics, despite the loss of hand, tongue, family, bishopric, health, comfort, freedom, or even life itself, because they knew that even the slightest straying from the teachings of the Apostles would enslave mankind once again to the devil.
It was not acceptable to those holy men and women that there should be a multitude of sects: Gnostic Christians, Arian Christians, Monophysite Christians, and the like. And it should not be acceptable to us. The Apostle Paul made this very clear:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (I Cor. 1:10-13) (Today folks would say, I follow John Piper, or Joyce Meyer, John Calvin, Pope John Paul II, etc.)
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
Southerners, then, because of their deep attachment to Protestantism (and that of some to Roman Catholicism), are ironically undermining Christianity in Dixie, and they should not expect things to improve in any deep or abiding way until they make the Orthodox Faith the foundation of their country.
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!