Review of Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Work

And before any Reformed folk get mad, the evangelical apologist Philip Johnson endorsed this book.

This biography read like a “page-turner novel.” Most novels aren’t this exciting. It is a combination of St Augustine’s *Confessions* along with a touch of Louis L’Amour. But most importantly, it is the story of a man’s passionate and desperate search for Christ. It is the excitement of a philosopher who spends his life for “truth” only to find Truth as a Person. Fr Seraphim’s life can be summarized along several major segments: The Search for Truth, The Religion of AntiChrist, Acquiring the Mind of the Fathers, and the Resurrection of Holy Russia.

Truth as a Person
Fr Seraphim, not unlike St Augustine, was philosophically-minded and spent much of his youth vainly looking for “truth.” He rejected the vapid form of Protestantism held by his nice, neat American suburb community, but soon drifted in and out of nihilism. After many bouts of anger and depression and binge-alcoholic drinking, he was to discover that Truth is “traditioned” and communities that had continuity with ancient traditions were more valid than more modern expressions of truth (64).

After his conversion to Russian Orthodoxy, Rose began to analyze the modern world. He followed Nietszche’s trajectory of nihilism as the negation of truth (140ff). Nihilism in the modern age was to prepare man for the reign of Antichrist and the arrival of the New World Order. Rose outlined four stages of nihilism: liberalism, realism, vitalism, and Nihilism

The religion of Antichrist
For Rose, Antichrist was an “ape of Christ.” He represented the forces of Satan opposing Christ. He will appear “good” to the world and solve the problems of the world (88). His religion will be a “demonic pentecost.” The more fringe elements of society will become more mainstream (cf CS Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 281). There will be a frightening unity behind the disparate world religions. He noticed a common theme behind various religious phenomena: Charismatic Christianity centered on pagan forms of initiation; the ecumenical movement seeks to outdo each other in abandoning all forms of Christianity for the sake of “unity.” And then UFOs: There is actually something behind the UFO encounters. They are clearly something of the paraphysical and occult realm. The aliens seem to be a strange mingling of physic and psychic matter–just like demons. The matter in them is of such subtlety it cannot be perceived except by saints. The message of the UFOs is to prepare for the reign of Antichrist. St Ignatius Brianchanninov said that the miracles of Antichrist will be in the aerial realm, where Satan has chief dominion.

Acquiring the Mind of the Fathers
The Mind of the Fathers is the Living understanding of Holy Tradition (416ff). They are the links between ancient texts and today’s reality. The fathers are the most capable preservers of the Truth because of the sanctity of their lives. Rose learned that he had to “acquire their mind–” he had to learn, think, and feel the way they did. He had to conform his consciousness to that of the Fathers. Acquiring the mind of the fathers is to acquire the mind of the church, which is the mind of Christ, who is the head of the Church. How do we acquire their minds (465)? 1. Constancy: Rose worked out a spiritual regimen based on wisdom from the Holy Fathers. Regular reading of the fathersl 2. Pain of Heart.

The Resurrection of Holy Russia
Fr Seraphim noted that Holy Russia would be resurrected from the ashes of Communism before the end of the world (653). The return of a Tsarist and pious leader is the half-hour silence in heaven spoken of in the Apocalypse, immediately before the reign of Antichrist. Rose saw Russia as a “blood-covered martyric land.” The Tsar-martyr Nicholas II was the restrainer of Antichrist (2 Thess. 2). The patricidal murder of the Tsar is a sign we are living in pre-Antichrist times (192). This idea can be connected with the horror of the 20th century, the rise of globalist institutions, global credit, and secular ideologies.

Of particular interest here are the prophecies of St Seraphim of Sarov, who gave four prophecies pertaining to the resurrection of Holy Russia (he spoke in the 19th century), three of which have already happened.

Fr Seraphim’s message to us:
It is later than you think. We live in an age where secular leaders openly call for world governance based on the bloody ideologies of the 20th century. While many ages think they are in the last generation, and Fr Seraphim would not want us wasting time predicting “times,” the New Testament does call for us to be awake and alert. When the leaders of countries call for a one-world government and one-world market, and when we take note of the “demonic pentecost” (spoken above), we can’t pretend we are “just living in normal times.” Rose had a particularly painful chapter called, “Today in Russia; tomorrow in America.” He meant that the Communist GULAG would soon come to America. With Obama’s cabinet and FEMA, can anyone seriously doubt this?

In any case, Hieromonk Damascene did a wonderful job in writing this book.

A POST-READING REFLECTION

Sometimes Orthodox will say that Protestantism is necessarily seen as wrong because of the common slide towards liberalism.  I would reply, “Hold your horses.”  While SCOBA might not be denying the virgin birth or the supernatural, if you want to see if someone is inching towards “mainline-ism,” mention Fr Seraphim Rose’s name and watch his reaction.

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5 comments on “Review of Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Work

  1. […] someone honestly studies the historical questions and the lives of the Holy Fathers, particularly Fr. Seraphim Rose, and decides, “Yes, I need to become Orthodox.”  To such a person I say, “Praise […]

  2. DCF says:

    OP,

    Interesting new blog you’ve got here. Glad I found it. It seems that your pendulum has swung the other way, so to speak.

    I am currently reading the subject of your review and enjoying it immensely. It is extremely humbling and edifying. I wonder if Fr. Seraphim will be canonized in the near future.

    Since you seem to still have an interest in EO but seem to be displaying a resurgence in your Protestantism, I wonder what, if anything, you think the lives of the saints “proves.” What I mean is this, when you read about say, St Seraphim of Sarov, and say you really can accept the miracles and the truly remarkable holiness of the man, and that coupled with the utter lack of that type of life in the history of protestantism, does that mean anything to you? I was having a conversation with my 5-point Calvinist brother recently and I asked him these questions. Do you have the categories of not just thought, but of reality itself to handle a St Seraphim of Sarov? Or is the life of the saints not sufficient to persuade? If I am being unclear, I apologize. I am trying to ask a nuanced question and I don’t know if I’m capable of doing so in this format. I am also not being argumentative. You are obviously an intelligent and erudite man who is, like Fr. Seraphim Rose, a seeker of Truth. Answer when you are able, I will check back in a few days. Thank you and have a nice day.

    • I hope he is canonized, also. I wonder which jurisdiction will do it. I doubt EP will do it, since Rose is pretty much the opposite of everything EP, and Rose routinely criticized the EP for compromise. An outlaw group like ROCA might, but that wouldn’t help Rose’s standing since most of SCOBA likely sees him as schismatic, anyway. MP/ROCOR would be a likely candidate if they thought about it.

      As to St Seraphim of Sarov. Technically, all his miracles *prove* is that he was a godly man through whom the Trinity manifested the divine energies. You really can’t logically draw any other conclusion about Protetantism since nothing in the syllogism follows.

      Premise 1: St Seraphim was a holy and miraculous man.

      ___________
      Conclusion: ????

      Do Protestants have miracles? Maybe. I don’t know. There are NUMEROUs legends of the Scottish Covenanters prophesying where Establishment troops were and thus avoided slaughter. After Roman Catholic soldiers desecrated Zwingli’s body with dung, legend has it that his heart miraculously survived. Did that really happen? I kind of doubt it, but it is no more or less reliable than Orthodox miracle stories (and on the whole I am inclined to give both the benefit of the doubt).

  3. DCF says:

    What did you think of Guenon’s analysis of Protestantism on pp. 66-67?

    And have you read Bouyer’s The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism? And what did you think?

    I know the third question is very open ended.

    Thanks.

    • Okay, here is what i thought:

      1. I largely agree with it, since what Guenon is attacking is Baptistic religion and liberal mainline Protestantism.
      2. Even so, Guenon is likely giving a bunch of assertions, not arguments.
      3. As per (1) and (2), I am not so sure his critique is relevant to magisterial Protestantism.

      That’s why i tried to tell the go-team cheerleaders at Orthodox Bridge. They are all attacking easy, weak views of Protestantism.

      Now to the heart of Guenon’s critique. I grant that there are anti-traditional tendencies in the heart of Protestantism. However, when I look closely enough at the pre-Nicene church, I don’t find the same traditions that I see in the 7th Ecumenical Synod.

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