September 2, 2014

Met. Hilarion Speaks at Highland Park Presbyterian, Dallas TX: No One Has Ever Seen God [AUDIO]

Met. Hilarion delivered the sermon at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas last Sunday (February 13, 2011). The title of his talk was “No One Has Ever Seen God.” It was part of a larger pastoral visit where he met with Orthodox believers in the area, had an audience with former President George Bush, and attended the Dallas premier of his symphony “St. Matthew’s Passion.” Listen to his sermon below.

It’s an outstanding talk; a cogent and uncompromising defense of biblical morality and teaching.

Listen here:

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Comments

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    Amen, Amen, Amen! Incredibly clear and direct moral teaching proclaimed with real AUTHORITY. His word resonate within my own heart, mind, and soul.

    He is a real shepherd indeed. God bless his work!

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    Harry Coin says:

    Clearly an able ambassador for the better angels of our nature, the church and Russia as well. I think English speaking folk will improve their impressions of all as a result I wonder, what occurred after these remarks? What reaction did the people there have?

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      George Michalopulos was there but has to work until 9pm tonight. George, when you read this, give us your impressions.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Incredibly uplifting. The entire weekend was a “high.” Perhaps I’m biased in that I actively seek out and work with like-minded Christian traditionalists from the Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, and Lutheran (Missouri Synod) denominations on sanctity of life issues. Admittedly High-Church and liturgical people, but also Evangelicals and Charismatics who are vitally concerned about these issues.

    Regardless, in his sermon to us after Vigil Saturday night, His Eminence told us his main job for the ROC is to “build bridges” to other faiths that are vitally concerned about the moral collapse of Western society. Also, he spoke positively about the marital state and the blessing of many children. I was particularly moved by his comments on marriage and how it is a bond that outlasts death. What a breath of fresh air! He talked about his relations with the RCC and others in Europe and how he looked forward to speaking to the Presbyterians in Dallas. He did not stop there: he actively seeks dialogue with Evangelicals.

    Although I’ve been a devoted anti-ecumenist all my life (at least the ecumenism of the WCC/NCC variety), I can’t help but feel that what +Hilarion is doing is more substantive because it’s more realistic. He’s not trying to convert them or merge Orthodoxy with other denominations, but he is trying to seek allies in the fight for the salvation of our civilization. This may be harder to do; think of it, ecumenism/syncretism would be much easier to accomplish. Liberal denominations of a barely Christic nature have already merged. Think of ELCA and ECUSA. It’s easy if you don’t really believe in anything to lay aside your differences and make nice.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. I expect to see more of this type of stuff because traditional Protestants are starved for the Truth. What I don’t think we’ll ever see is these bodies reaching out to Orthodox bishops of the more liberal jurisdictions. No one who’s serious about Christianity is going to pay a pretty penny to hear somebody in a flowing robe and funny hat tell them how wonderful things are in the world right now. That’s something the Unitarians would do for Frankie Schaeffer.

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      Nick Katich says:

      George: If Frankie became a Unitarian, that would be a far sight better than what think he is “evolving” (or devolving?) into.

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    Rod Dreher says:

    I was at the performance of his “St. Matthew Passion” oratorio Sunday evening at the Highland Park Presbyterian church. It was quite beautiful, and made one proud grateful to be Orthodox.

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    Isaac says:

    I don’t see how Western civilization will be saved when most people neither see their plight nor desire the remedy. On the other hand, it would be interesting if Christians could demonstrate a way of living that is set apart in terms of divorce, abortion, sexual abuse and any number of issues. What if the divorce rates among Christians were radically different from those of the secular culture in which they reside? Instead, Christians are almost completely conformed to their cultures when it comes to these moral failings.

    I have huge respect for Met. Hilarion and have several of his works on my shelf. Nevertheless, I think that Christians can’t save people against their will. We can serve as an example of something very different.

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      Harry Coin says:

      The church needs a just the right ‘cell phone app’. Not beating out the hours like the neighborhood church bells of old with the ‘byzantine top 40′, but something that puts out a little warmth and encouragement to lean to the light as the everyday proceeds.

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      Harry Coin says:

      If you really want that results, essentially wholeness, the church has to model it also in her visible interior life. I’ll not just hit ‘paste’ from previous postings instead I’ll just mention that the relationship between the people, the priest and the bishop can’t be comparable to an audience, the family of an alcoholic, and those who have the authority but have no idea how to be fathers (because they never were and often had poor relations with their own father) and so are more akin to administrators. Often able administrators, but they lack peers with widsom enough to be able to do ‘lateral thinking’.

      Once again, we must cope with the fact that a thing has happened these last 100 years that never before happened in the life of the church: Medicine has made statistically excinct the once predominant species– ‘working age widower’. We now know this. Only if we fail to act is there right blame.

      We have had all the warning anyone sane could be expected to deserve. If what we are seeing cannot be understood as the Spirit speaking to the church then either we are deaf or the Holy Spirit of God is taking a little nappy and the fourfold increase in life, particularly in our cherished women was an accident. Harry the Greek is betting on ‘deaf’.

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      John Panos says:

      Even God can’t save people against their will. It’s kind of a non sequitur.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Isaac:

      I think that Christians can’t save people against their will.

      “Acquire the Holy Spirit and thousands around you will be saved.” This is not just a figure of speech.
      St. Seraphim of Sarov

      “Acquiring is the same as obtaining,” he replied. “Do you understand, what acquiring money means? Acquiring the Spirit of God is exactly the same. You know very well enough what it means to acquire in a worldly sense, your Godliness. The aim of ordinary worldly people is to acquire or make money; and for the nobility, it is in addition to receive honors, distinctions and other rewards for their services to the government. The acquisition of God’s Spirit is also capital, but grace-giving and eternal, and it is obtained in very similar ways, almost the same ways as monetary, social and temporal capital.

      When one becomes a slave of the passions then one has no eyes to see nor ears to hear anything. One eventually ends up in self-destruction, succumbing to passions.
      Here is an example which might help us understand how one person can be saved by the one who did acquire the Holy Spirit. When one meets a person like Father Paisios Olaru, then one cannot be left indifferent.

      [...]With a sad voice, he told me: “My dear son, now why do you still doubt, even now?!” I understood then that it was me who was the blind one, the stupid one, the one with a heart like stone, the stubborn, the proud one and all the other things that he was accusing himself of in order to help me wake up to humility, repentance, and tears. From that moment on, he changed his confession method.

      He told me what was in my mind, heart, and what was written in my papers, for almost three more hours. [...]

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      Nick Katich says:

      Isaac:

      Instead, Christians are almost completely conformed to their cultures when it comes to these moral failings…Nevertheless, I think that Christians can’t save people against their will. We can serve as an example of something very different.

      I agree with your first sentence. It proves a point I have believed in for a long time. We have to not only missionize others, but we have to keep missionizing the Orthodox and what I affectionately call the Easter-Orthodox (those occasional Church goers).

      I, respectfully, disagree with your second sentence. If it were a reflection of reality, the Lord would not have given the Great Commission, Paul and others would not have missionized (including Paul in hostile synagogues) and most of Europe would have remained pagan. We must engage the cultural mileu that is prevelant today and try, if we can, to restore what has been lost.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Isaac, there is much truth in what you say, but it cannot be used as an excuse for continued inaction. Yes, we are imperfect, but the Gospel is not. The logical end of what you describe is Gnosticism, or a purist type of Christianity that is used to justify inaction.

      I’ve seen this up close and personal in my disputations with certain administrator-priests (who serve in bureaucracies but have no parishes). They belittle other denominations and ministries (and other Orthodox jurisdictions as well) by saying things like “well, things aren’t as rosy over at ‘X’ as you seem to think.” One priest in particular took on Charles Colson’s ministry by saying “I’ve seen the numbers, he hasn’t been that successful.” Leaving aside for a moment the fact that even if Colson’s ministry has saved only one person, then it is a success as far as Jesus is concerned, this type of slight derision describes very clearly the use of church authority (i.e. canons, hierarchy, protocols, etc.) to excuse our present failures.

      As much as I don’t like it when hyper-Orthodox castigate “liberals” for cutting corners, I can’t stand it when “liberals” justify the continued inertia and lethargy of the present American Orthodox regime because “nobody can be perfect” or “things were always this way” or “there never was a Golden Age of Orthodoxy,” etc.

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    Andrew says:

    There is part of me that is starting to believe that Metropolitan Hilarion is cut from the same cloth as Karol Wojtyla.

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    GregF says:

    Authentic religious life begins not when we provide rational answers to questions of God existence, but when we begin building our lives in accordance with God’s commandments.

    16 minutes well spent.

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    Isaac says:

    Eliot Ryan,

    I think you agree with me then. I am not quite sure. I certainly take St. Seraphim’s words to imply that we can’t give a culture what we ain’t got ourselves.

    Nick,
    Do you mean by legislation (which means by force)? That is what I take issue with. I am not saying that we must remain silent (although it looks a lot better if we speak up after we have our house somewhat in order) but I do take issue with forcing people to live like Christians when they are not Christians and have no desire to be. I am pretty sure Jesus eschewed that way of doing things.

    Geo,

    I am not sure what you mean by action or inaction. I think Christians lose a great deal of credibility when they weigh in on state sanctioned marriage laws (or force them by votes and monetary donations) and then have divorce rates on par with the rest of the culture. So my point was maybe we could get our own houses in order and then look to the rest of the culture if we succeed in that. I am not saying Christians of any tradition are going to accomplish perfection, but what if Christians had divorce rates lower than the outside culture enough for it to really stand out? I have no problem with what Colson does in terms of his prison ministry. I think God can save any repentant heart, so I see it as a good thing. I was speaking more to engagement in politics. I mean should we hire a bunch of lobbyists to try to push a bunch of laws to make people be more moral against their will? I agree with Met. Hilarion about a decline in Western culture no doubt and I truly appreciate his willingness to speak the truth. I am just not sure what he thinks the solution is other than us working a lot harder at being Christians with integrity.

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      Nick Katich says:

      Isaac:

      No, I do not mean legislation to “force” someone to do someyhing. I mean engaging this post-modern, anti-Christian culture. First, we need to resist and fight back against the blatantly anti-Christian attitude that exists among the political leaders, academia and media. We must rise in protest everytime the symbols of Christianity are attacked. We must rise in protest everytime the Christian message is ridiculed and/or marginalized. We must rise in protest everytime the history of civilization is rewritten in the classroom. And, both by example and by message, we must teach and preach the message and show that the decline in the moral fiber of the society will lead to its ultimate ruin.

      I don’t know if you have ever read Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”. The book deals with the Western cultuere’s state of decline. Although superficially, the cause of this decline is attributed to the rise of modern “liberalism”, the cause of that rise is also explored. The message of modern liberalism is its dual emphasis on radical egalitarianism and radical individualism. The rise of modern “liberalism” began in the late 60s and subsequent years have seen a rise in increased violence in and sexualization of the mass media, the legalization of abortion, pressure to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, radical feminism and the decline of religion. The root cause of all of this has been the ever increasing marginalization or ridicule of the Christian message by the intelligencia and the marginalization of the Roman Catholic Church through its own actions in which it has marginalized itself.

      Yes, Christianity in general needs to get its house in order, but it also needs to fight back in an intelligent way and try to reverse the inexorable movement towards both radical egalitarianism and radical individualism. We must stay on message that both extremes will lead to civilization’s collapse. And indeed Rome needs a wake up call to stop making such stupid and inane statements that the distribution of condoms, for example, in Africa will lead to an increase in AIDS.

      Ultimately, what Met. Hilarion is trying to do is to marshall the forces of Christian Europe to speak with a common voice in these matters but also to speak in a more rational voice whereby Christianity does not continue to marginalize itself. Yes, a daunting, but nevertheless vital, task.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Isaac, why shouldn’t Christians engage in the public square? Are we not called by God to pay taxes and be loyal? Even to serve in the army? Of course we are, and this isn’t the result of sophisticated Patristic analysis, it’s Scriptural. Were the bishops of the just-legalized Church justified in advising Constantine the Great on his social legislation, which was extensive? Were the abolitionists right in pursuing the end of the slave trade in America?

      I know you’re right: it’d be great if our divorce rates were lower than the rest of society but the revulsion that normal people feel towards oxymoronic concepts such as homosexual “marriage” or the more ubiquitous polygamy doesn’t mean that we can’t speak out on it. But let’s take this a step further, who in the Orthodox Church is responsible for our high divorce rates? Isn’t this a result of the lack of spiritual formation that is preponderant in most of our jurisdictions? Go into any GOA church and see if the Chalice is ever withheld from known adulterers or teenagers who are sexually active or women who’ve had abortions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the priests, their jobs are on the line. You know and I know that their bishops don’t have their backs. Why? Because most of them are corrupt themselves.

      This is even the case in the AOCNA, whereing last year a steadfast bishop was defenestrated because he wanted to make sure that certain of his parishes were abiding by federal laws. Certain priests treated him as a dreaded “convert” and leaned on their primate to exile him to Alaska. Etc. Anyway, that’s a ramble, but the point remains. Perhaps we Orthodox would have a cleaner house if we had better bishops. Regardless, as a layman I’m still entitled to speak out on public issues even if our clergy and episcopate can’t or won’t. Why? Because as a layman I’m just as much a part of the Church as anybody else.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

    But people so much loved sin that they do not want to hear about everlasting life. People’s imagine of God became distorted to what they want Him to be. They do not even realize that they might be His enemies.
    .
    Nick says that the rise of modern “liberalism” began in the late 60s and subsequent years and the root cause of all of this has been the ever increasing marginalization or ridicule of the Christian message by the intelligencia and the marginalization of the Roman Catholic Church through its own actions in which it has marginalized itself.
    .
    So, to summarize, the root cause has been mass media, the anti-Christian activism of the intelligencia and the wrongful (self-destructive) actions of the Roman Catholic Church.
    .
    A believe that people living in these times, darkened by so much stray wandering need to know that habitual sinning is not the norm even if this is how it is/has been presented by mass media. While they have been have indulging themselves in sin, the chosen ones of God co-existed in the twentieth century, “men who raised themselves to the same level of faith and sacrifice as that of the early Christian martyrs”.

    Men like Valeriu Gafencu and other confessors of the prisons through whom the Holy Spirit worked with power, men worthy of high regard, await their place in the calendar, being the surest models of Christianity for us in these times dominated by confusion. Their lives deserve to be made known not for earthly glory, but “so that people living in these times, darkened by so much stray wandering, a result of estrangement from God, will know that such chosen ones existed in the twentieth century, men who raised themselves to the same level of faith and sacrifice as that of the early Christian martyrs.

    I personally believe that the world is in such a state that repentance will come only through suffering.

    I also believe the word of the Elders: “It is the Holy Liturgy that still keeps the world.”

    I believe that priests need to talk more about the hunting effects of sin.

    What sin is!

    Sin is treading upon the law of God, a voluntary or involuntary treading, in knowledge or in ignorance, in deed, in word, in thought. Sin is dishonor toward God, insult, disdain, defamation, ingratitude and wounding toward the Divine being, in an egocentric spirit.

    Sin is a lack of faith and a lack of confidence in God and in His law, and too much faith and confidence in oneself, such that a man becomes a law unto himself, because whenever you break the law of God, you obey another law, your own, or the devil’s.

    Sin is a second crucifixion of Christ, for through sin all the insults, mockery, and beatings are renewed. The nails, the spear, the thorns, through sin, Christ feels them all again. Today, however, the blows no longer come from those who defamed Him and shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Now they are administered by those who say they believe in Him, who say that they follow His commandments, that they love Him. Now it is those who are baptized who spit in His face, it is those who call themselves Christians who put the crown of thorns on His head, now it is they who slap Him, who nail Him to the cross, who goad Him with the spear, those for whom Christ suffered mockery and beating and for whom He shed His blood on Golgotha in order to make them sons of God, in order to open the gates of heaven for them, to destroy death and demolish hell.

    Sin is estrangement from God and drawing near to the devil. It is estrangement from the house of the Father and life in a faraway country with the devil’s pigs. [...]

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  1. Words says:

    [...] sermon, which he did with the title, “No One Has Ever Seen God”. The audio recording is available online. This sermon addresses moral issues most of all. I don’t know how it was received. The [...]

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