Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Yesterday, I was reading 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, where Paul is writing about the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of the world. I was reminded of our former Baptist pastor in the early ’80s who was highly intellectual, which attracted a lot of people from academia in our college town. (Although that wasn’t the attraction for my husband and I; we are those who Paul would call “not wise after the flesh.”) He eventually took a pastorate in another state in the mid-’80s and moved away. Since he came to mind while reading 1 Corinthians, I wondered how he was doing these days and looked him up. I was shocked, dismayed, and heartbroken to learn that he is now an Orthodox priest!
How could one be a Baptist pastor for 38 years and then turn to Orthodoxy? . . . I remember he highly respected Bible scholars of “higher criticism.” It seems that he eventually got discouraged and disillusioned and (by 2000) left his Baptist church to do some soul searching. And this is where he absolutely took a wrong turn. Instead of turning to Scripture and studying God’s Word for answers, he began delving deep into “church” history. This took him further down the road to the Ancient Fathers and the more he read, the more he was convinced that the true church was in Orthodoxy. By February 2007, he was ordained a priest in the Orthodox church.
His “testimony” and church website include words like theosis, spiritual formation, God’s energy, mystery, the Jesus prayer, Mary the Mother of God, icons, incense, mystical experience, worshiping with all five senses, missional, etc. He fully embraces the Eucharist, praying to Mary and the saints, infant baptism, and liturgies.
He has rejected believers who know him and tried to admonish him.
Should I be surprised? No. Ray Yungen and Roger Oakland were right that following this pathway will eventually lead to faith undone and a time of departing. What is even more disturbing in this pastor’s apostasy is that he took a following of people with him right into the Orthodox church. He is truly a case of the blind leading the blind, and his judgment will be great (James 3:1).
My heart is broken, and I pray for him and his family. Thank you for being a warning ministry and shedding light on these works of darkness. I have learned so much from your ministry and publications.
Your sister in Christ,
Multi-Sensory Worship: Prayer Stations, Icons, Incense, and Candles by Roger Oakland
The Desert Fathers and the Methods They Used by Ray Yungen
(Photo of an orthodox priest from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)