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Father Seraphim Rose of Platina

6. Signs of the Times

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6. "CHRISTIAN" INTEREST IN UFOS

A second example of a new phenomenon, which at first sight one doesn't know what to make of, is the now very common phenomenon of UFOs, flying saucers.

There is a particular Protestant evangelist, the above-mentioned Carl McIntire, who is extremely strict and righteous and very Bible-believing. He has a radio program, the Twentieth-Century Reformation, and a newspaper. He is absolutely upright—you have to separate from all people who are in apostasy—and his ideas are very nice. He's anti-communist. He calls Billy Graham an apostate, together with everyone who deviates from the strict line of what he thinks is right. From this point of view he's very strict, and yet you see the strangest things i his philosophy. For example, he's building himself the Temple of Jerusalem, in Florida. He has a model of the Temple, and he wants to build it so as to make it compete with Disneyworld. People will come and pay to see the great Temple which is soon going to be built for Christ to come to earth. This is supposed to provide a good opportunity to witness Christianity.

He goes in for the flying saucers, also. In every issue of his newspaper there's a little column called "UFO Column," and there they talk, to one's great astonishment, about all the wonderful, positive things which these flying saucers are doing. The give conferences and make movies about them.

Just recently there have been several Protestant books about UFOs, showing quite clearly that they're demons. The person who writes the column in this newspaper got upset about this, and said that some people say that these beings are demons, but we can prove they aren't. Next...

 

5. Signs of the Times

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5. THE DISTORTION OF CHRISTIAN EQUALITY

We have one particular idea right now that's taking possession of people: the so-called idea of women's liberation. This takes the form of women priestesses in the Anglican Church, and also in the Catholic Church, which is preparing for it now.

Of course, if you look at this seriously, sit down and think about it, and you read what St. Paul says about women and so forth, you have no problems. It's all very clear that this is some kind of crazy new idea. But it is also very interesting to look at this more deeply and see where it comes from—why is there such an idea, what is it, what's behind it?—because if you understand the strategy of the devil, you're a little better equipped to fight against it.

This particular idea of women's liberation can be traced back at least two hundred years. Of course, you can go back even before that, but its present from goes back at least two hundred years, to the forerunners of Karl Marx, the early Socialists. These Socialists were talking about a great new utopian age which is going to come when all the distinctions of class and race and religion and so forth are abolished. There will be a great new society, they said, when everybody is equal. This idea, of course, was based originally upon Christianity, but it distorted Christianity, and amounted to its opposit.

There was a particular philosopher in China in the late nineteenth century who brought this philosophy to its logical conclusion, as far as it could go. His name is K'ang Yu-Wei (1858-1927). He's not particularly interesting except as he incarnates this philosophy of the age, this spirit of the times. He was actually one of the forerunners of Mao Tse-Tung and the takeover of China by the communists. Next...

 

4. Signs of the Times

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4. SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT

The most important thing that one acquires through reading such basic Orthodox literature as this is a virtue which is called discernment. When we come to two phenomena which seem to be exactly alike or very similar to each other, the virtue of discernment allows us to see which of them is true and which is false: that is, which has the spirit of Christ and which might have the spirit of Antichrist.
The very nature of Antichrist, who is to be the last great world ruler and the last great opponent of Christ, is to be anti-Christ—and "anti" means not merely "against," but also "in imitation of, in place of." The Antichrist, as all the Holy Fathers say in their writings about him, is to be someone who imitates Christ, that is, tires to fool people by looking as though he is Christ come back to earth. Therefore, if one has a very vague notion of Christianity or reads the Scriptures purely from one's own opinions (and one's opinions come from the air, and the air is not Christian now, but anti-Christian), then one will come to very anti-Christian conclusions. Seeing the figure of Antichrist, one will be fooled into thinking that it is Christ.
We can give a few examples of how the virtue of discernment can help us to understand some fairly complicated phenomena. One such phenomenon is the charismatic movement. There is a Greek priest, Fr. Eusebius Stephanou in Indiana, who is spreading this movement in the Orthodox Church. He has a rather large number of followers and sympathizers. He's even been to Greece and is going again soon, and there too people are sometimes quite overwhelmed by him. Next...
   

3. Signs of the Times

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3. THE BASIS FOR UNDERSTANDING THE SIGNS

The first thing we must have if we are going to have the true interpretation of the signs of the times is something we can call basic Orthodox knowledge. That is, knowledge of the Holy Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments (and not just according to the way it seems, but according to the way the Church has interpreted it); knowledge of the writings of Holy Fathers; knowledge of Church history; and awareness of the different kind of heresies and errors which have attacked the Church's true understanding of dogma and especially of the last times. If we do not have a grounding in sources such as these, we will find ourselves confused and unprepared. That is precisely what our Lord tells us: to be ready, to be prepared. Unless we have this basic knowledge, we will not be prepared and we will misinterpret the signs of the times.

A few years ago a book was printed in English which has become a fantastic bestseller for a religious book. It has sold over ten million copies in America. It's called The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, a Protestant Evangelical in Texas. In a rather superficial style he gives his interpretation of the signs of the times. He believes it's the last times we are living in now. He believes that everywhere around us there are being fulfilled these signs which our Lord talked about. If you read this book, you find that sometimes he gets something more or less correct according to our Orthodox understanding, sometimes he is totally off, and sometimes he is partly wrong, partly right. It's as though he's just guessing, because he reads the Scripture according to his own understanding. He has no basic Orthodox Christian knowledge, no background in the true knowledge of the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. Therefore, if you read this book seriously, you will find that you become very confused. You don't know what to believe any more. He talks, for example, about a millennium which is supposed to come before the end of the world. He talks about the rapture, when Christians are supposedly gathered up into the heavens before the end of the world, and then watch how the people suffer down below. He talks about the building of the Temple in Jerusalem as though this is a good thing, as thought this is preparing for Christ's coming. Next...

 

2. Signs of the Times

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2. THE SIGNS GIVEN US BY CHRIST

We Orthodox Christians have already recognized and accepted the signs of Christ's First Coming. The very fact that we're Orthodox Christians means that we've done this. We know what these signs mean: for example, the sign of Jonah, the 490 years of Daniel, and many other things which our Lord fulfilled. Our Orthodox Divine services are filled with Old Testament prophecies which were fulfilled in the coming of Christ. These we all see and recognize—it all seems clear. But now we have to look for different kinds of signs, that is, the signs of the Second Coming of Christ. The whole teaching about the Second Coming of Christ and the signs which will precede it is set forth in several places in the Gospels, especially in the 24th chapter of St. Matthew. St. Mark and St. Luke also have chapters about this.

This chapter of St. Matthew tells of how our Lord departed from the Temple, and how his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the Temple. Of course, in those days the Temple was the center of worship. Every Jew had to come to the Temple at least at Pascha, the Passover, for this alone was where God could be worshipped in the right way.

Our Lord looked at the Temple and told His disciples, "See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you: There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." To tell a believing Jew at that time that the whole Temple is to be thrown down, that nothing is to be left of it, is like saying it's the end of the world, because the Temple is precisely the place where God is supposed to be worshipped. How are you going to worship God if there's no Temple? So these words of our Savior made the disciples start thinking about the end of the world. They immediately said, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" In other words, they already knew that He was going to come again and that this would be bound up with the end of the world. Next...

   

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