Below is an excerpt from the book Letters from Father Seraphim, a correspondence he kept with Fr. Alexey Young. It is from a letter dated dated over 40 years ago, February 10, 1976. Wonder what Fr. Seraphim would say about the “hothouse approach to Orthodoxy” via the internet, social media….Coincidentally, the video above is not related to the post.
“I’ve written and talked to L about this hothouse approach to Orthodoxy – filled with gossip, knowing “what’s going on”, having the “right answer” to everything according to what he “experts” say….
An example: she is horrified that T was received into the Church [from Roman Catholicism] without baptism or chrismation. “That’s wrong,” she says. But we see nothing particularly wrong with it; that is for the priest and bishop to decide, and it is not our (or even more, her) business. The rite by which he was received has long been approved by the Church out of economy, and probably in the case it was the best way, because T might have hesitated much more at being baptized. The Church’s condescension here was wise. But L would like someone “to read Vladika Anthony the decree of the Sobor” [on this subject]. My dear, he was there, composing the decree, which explicitly gives the bishop permission to use economy when he wishes! We don’t like this attitude at all, because it introduces totally unnecessary disturbance into the church atmosphere. And if she is going to tell T now that he is not “really” a member of the Orthodox Church, she could do untold harm to a soul.
Another example: L was very pleased that Q was baptized [after having been a member of the Russian Church Abroad already for several years]: Finally he did it “right”! But we are not pleased at all, seeing in this a sign of great spiritual immaturity on his part and a narrow fanaticism on the part of those who approve. Saint Basil the Great refused to baptize a man who doubted the validity of his baptism, precisely because he had already received communion for many years and it was too late to doubt then that he was a member of Christ’s Church! In the case of our converts, it’s obvious that those who insist or are talked into receiving baptism after already being members of the Church are trying, out of a feeling of insecurity, to receive something which the Sacrament dot not give: psychological security, a making up for their past failures while already Orthodox, a belonging to the “club” of those who are “right”, an automatic spiritual “correctness”. But this acts casts doubt on the Church and her ministers. If the priest or bishop who received such people were wrong (and so wrong that the whole act of reception must be done over again!), a sort of Church within the Church is created, a clique which, by contrast to “most bishops and priests”, is always “right”. And of course, that is our big problem today – and even more in the days ahead. It is very difficult to fight this, because they offer “clear and simple” answers to every question, and our insecure converts find this the answer to their needs. “