Frank Schaeffer’s Fundamentalist Fakery

From the article: “Schaeffer’s Orthodox history might be inconvenient to him today because based on the Church’s teachings — sanctity of life, sexuality, marriage, a hyper-patriarchal priesthood — it looks a lot like the dimwitted “Taliban” Christians and “fundamentalists” that Schaeffer spends so much time denouncing of late. Then again, you can hardly go around advertising the fact that you spent years proselytizing on behalf of traditional morality if, today, you want to maximize your page views on HuffPo and get MSNBC producers to call you back.”

Source: Acton Institute | John Couretas

Frank Schaeffer: Bachmann, Palin, Perry Use Religion Like Snake Oil Salesmen (2011)

Remaining Orthodox in a Secular World : A Sermon by Frank Schaeffer (2002)

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), has a story on about Frank Schaeffer’s call for the Occupy Wall Street protesters to go after Evangelical Christians. Schaeffer is the son of evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984). Tooley:

A blogger for The Huffington Post, young Schaeffer is now faulting religious conservatives for facilitating Wall Street greed. He’s imploring the Wall Street Occupiers to “protest the root source of America’s tilt to the far unregulated corporate right.” For Schaeffer, the next logical step is to demonstrate “outside mega churches, Evangelical publishing houses, [and] religious organizations that lead the ‘moral’ crusades against women and gays and all the rest.”

The article, titled “Wall Street Occupiers Urged to Target Churches,” also describes Schaeffer attacking Roman Catholics as “likewise ‘fundamentalists’ who have ‘delegitimized the US Government and thus undercut its ability to tax, spend and regulate.’ So Catholic bishops, like evangelical mega churches, have also tricked their followers into voting against their ‘own class and self-interest.’” See the top video in this post for a sample of Schaeffer spleen.

In August, New York Times reporter Mark Oppenheimer interviewed Schaeffer about his new book Sex, Mom and God and said that that the author’s “break with conservatism, and with evangelicalism, came in the late 1980s.” But, as Oppenheimer described it in “Son of Evangelical Royalty Turns His Back, and Tells the Tale,” Schaeffer, Oppenheimer wrote:

… had long been skeptical of many of his bedfellows. He found the television pastor Pat Robertson and some of his colleagues to be ‘idiots,’ he told me last week, when we met for coffee in western Massachusetts. Looking back, Mr. Schaeffer says that once he became disillusioned he ‘faked it the whole way.’

Schaeffer might be telling the truth, but remember he’s a self-confessed faker. But one thing’s for sure — Oppenheimer didn’t do his homework.

The second, grainy video at the top of this post, shot in a Greek Orthodox church about six months after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, shows Schaeffer in his post-evangelical, pre-HuffPo culture wars mode — more than a decade after his purported “break” from the right. You hear him warning those in the pews about the threat from “the Islamic horde that now pours toward our frontiers” and hear him berating Protestants and Catholics for their soft “feminized” Christianity that won’t stand up to secularism, hedonism and a whole catalog of evils that might have been formulated by, say, Pat Robertson. Schaeffer wants a Christianity that isn’t wishy-washy, therapeutic and “sentimental” but has a “my way or the highway” ethic — a lot like the U.S. Marine Corps. In fact, he has found the alternative to America’s flabby faith: the Orthodox Church.

A tireless book promoter (see also the first five minutes of this longer video), Schaeffer spent a good part of the 1990s and beyond attacking Western Christianity for its many failures and novelties over and against the “pure and clean and perfect” Orthodox Church, into which he was received as a convert. The launching pad for much of this vitriol was his 1995 book, Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religions, which combined Orthodox triumphalism and cold-hearted sectarian vituperation and took it to new heights.

My Greek Orthodox parish was instrumental in bringing Schaeffer to Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1995 for a speaking engagement at a local high school that drew more than 1,000 people. The crowd included many curious Protestants who wanted to hear the son of the famous evangelical theologian explain why he had left the fold and converted to Orthodoxy. While in town, Schaeffer was interviewed on Calvin Forum, a public affairs program on the Calvin College educational TV channel. Indeed, the Reformed minister who interviewed him later was received into the Orthodox Church. Listen to Kevin Allen of Ancient Faith Radio interview former moderator of Calvin Forum, Robert Meyering, about the role Schaeffer played in his journey East.

What is Orthodoxy? According to Schaeffer, “it is the church that has maintained the worship, the sacrament, the truth, in its only pure form that can be found in the world today.” Problem is, in his current incarnation as scourge of the Religious Right, Schaeffer doesn’t say much about the Orthodox Church and his many years of (faking it again?) traveling the country as a Neo-Byzantine circuit rider. You see no evidence on his personal web page of any of those rants against the Catholic and Protestant enemies of Orthodoxy, nor access to a digital version of his tabloid Christian Activist newspaper that was frequently the vehicle for these attacks.

In Dancing Alone, Schaeffer decried the “Protestant debacle [embodied in the ecumenical movement] which has resulted in the disintegration of Western civilization, the acceptance of abortion on demand, the ordination of women, homosexuals and lesbians, the apostasy and heresy inherent in ‘liberal’ Protestant theology.” This was years after he “broke” with the conservatives and Religious Right? Here’s the contents page for the book on Regina Orthodox Press, the publishing house Schaeffer founded and which continues to sell titles like From Baptist to Byzantium and The Virtue of War.

Schaeffer’s Orthodox history might be inconvenient to him today because based on the Church’s teachings — sanctity of life, sexuality, marriage, a hyper-patriarchal priesthood — it looks a lot like the dimwitted “Taliban” Christians and “fundamentalists” that Schaeffer spends so much time denouncing of late. Then again, you can hardly go around advertising the fact that you spent years proselytizing on behalf of traditional morality if, today, you want to maximize your page views on HuffPo and get MSNBC producers to call you back.

IRD covered a speech Schaeffer recently gave in which he cited the Orthodox tradition’s reverence for “holy mysteries” as grounds for rejecting “the frozen being of belief.” But the mysteries of the faith in Orthodox teaching (indeed, the Christian faith rests on profound mysteries) do not provide grounds for a faith that changes, as he puts it, “like the weather.” He should go back and re-read his history of the Ecumenical Councils if he thinks that “anything goes” is how the Church does theology.

Years ago, it was obvious to some Orthodox Christians that Schaeffer had anger management issues. In a 1995 review of Dancing Alone, the scholar and essayist Vigen Gurioan said the book “oozes with the same moralism, instrumentalism and pragmatism that have contributed to the secularization and loss of catholic Christian consciousness that he condemns.”

Schaeffer, Guroian wrote, is at heart an individualist who has taken it upon himself to single handedly interpret the Truth and right all wrongs:

Schaeffer seems to have become Orthodox because the rest of America has gone wrong, and Orthodoxy is the best religious remedy for cultural crisis and moral malaise. At work here is not the catholic mind of the church but the romantic self that takes upon itself the task of reconstructing and arbitrating theological truth. Schaeffer intones “Holy Tradition” repeatedly when he passes judgment on the falsehood in others and claims truth for his own statements (“Holy Tradition says…”). But at center stage as arbiter and mediator of this so-called Holy Tradition is the “I.”

Schaeffer is still arbitrating the truth, but now from the left. Fair enough. That’s his choice. Although, inciting mobs to attack churches and publishing houses does sound a tad intolerant.

But the New York Times claim that the years of “faking it” among Christian traditionalists ended in 1985, doesn’t hold water. Actually, his right wing, sectarian hate speech phase extended deep into the 1990s and 2000s, albeit masquerading in the rich brocades of Orthodox triumphalism. You wonder: Because Frank Schaeffer is such a good faker, could he still be faking it today? Is he a double agent in the culture wars, secretly going among the liberals at HuffPo and MSNBC until the time is ripe to once again expose the evildoers with new books and fresh tirades? We’ll have to stay tuned.


  1. This is a man with a lot of hate and bitterness in him. It seems to me that he either had a nervous break down in early to mid 2000s or he had an existing mental health problem that only became more prominent as he aged. No matter the situation, this is a man in need of love and of prayer. It sounds like he might have become orthodox for the wrongs reasons. It seems he must have needed a religious platform to spew his rage/hate against his family heritage. Frankly, I am glad he does not mention his orthodox faith, since he would be a bad example to the general public.

  2. Those are two different extreme people on each of those videos. It seems like he has been rejected by conservatives and is trying to gain the liberals. Is he really gaining liberal support?

    He does nail some very important things in the sermon. We should not be so naive to think our Church will not be tempted to assimilate with the Protestant ethos. I wish more would admonish us about these things…with a smoother tone, of course.

  3. A couple of years ago, I wrote a letter to Franky, with the help of several friends, seeking to reason with him and bring him back to Orthodoxy, in the spirit of correcting an erring brother (James 5:20). Our intent was also to help the weak, especially Orthodox who may be persuaded by Franky’s anti-Christian rhetoric, or non-Orthodox Christians who may think Franky’s fanatically liberal articles represent the Church. We were going to make the letter an open one, with multiple signatories, but ultimately gave up on the idea (I wish we hadn’t). In any case, I sent my letter to him from myself alone. I have not heard back from him. This is what I/we wrote:

    Dear Brother Frank,

    Glory to Jesus Christ!

    First of all, let us say we have been very glad to have you as our brother in communion. Your journey to the Orthodox Church has inspired many, and opened doors for those interested in the Faith. Your publishing company has introduced historic Christianity to those who otherwise would have no exposure to it. Your abilities as a writer and public speaker are wonderful gift to the Church. You have helped bring public awareness to the “best kept secret in America,” and for this we thank you, and we appreciate your work, and we embrace you as our brother in Christ.

    In recent years, however, we have noted with fraternal concern changes in your public comments and in your writing toward traditional Christian teachings. We are concerned because what you say and write represents holy Orthodoxy to many who read your words. It is to your recent writings and public comments that we feel compelled to address you, in brotherly love.

    We believe that while it is natural and to some degree a necessity for converts to make a break from their past, those from backgrounds which hold consistencies with our Holy Tradition are not required to reject everything they were raised to believe, particularly Christian teachings of a moral character.

    Specifically, you have made comments repudiating your father’s seminal works, “What Ever Happened To The Human Race?,” “A Christian Manifesto,” “How Shall We Then Live?,” and your own writings against abortion and supporting societal morality, including “A Time For Anger: The Myth of Neutrality.” This concerns us because the holy Orthodox Faith teaches us to uphold the Sanctity of Life and to be moral “light” and “salt” in our society. We believe it is a time for moral outrage when millions of innocent persons made in God’s image are slaughtered to the modern Moloch. Orthodox theologian Dr Stanley Harakas explains the Church’s historic position:

    “The Church from the very beginning of existence has sought to protect “the life in the womb” and has considered abortion as a form of murder in its theology and canons. Orthodox Christians are admonished not to encourage women to have abortions, nor to assist in the committing of abortion. Those who perform abortions and those who have sought it are doing an immoral deed, and are called to repentance.”

    Your comments during the last Presidential election cycle, ridiculing Christians including Orthodox faithful who by conscience refused to vote for a “pro choice” president were, we feel, unbecoming of a Christian. We believe your public position led many to confusion, and in some cases supported the weak in opposing the Church’s clear teaching on abortion.

    Relatedly, we note your misguided support for destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation. You oppose what you call “the Catholic/Evangelical conspiracy to derail stem cell research.” In fact, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America has clearly stated the Church’s position, that Orthodox Christians “cannot condone the manipulation of embryonic cells in any form for research purposes, including lives developed from destroyed embryos.” The Orthodox bishops call upon the president and congress “to restore and maintain a total ban” on embryonic stem cell experimentation as “inherently immoral and a fundamental violation of human life… Embryonic stem cell research results in unmitigated harm. It should be unequivocally rejected in the interests of preserving both the sacredness and the dignity of the human person.”

    We take issue with your soteriology, proclaiming “atheists or Muslims or gay men and women” do God’s will like the Good Samaritan. Your intent seems to be to admonish Christians toward compassion, but your conclusion that homosexuals will “inherit the earth,” and, “the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to…gay couples who are being denied their civil rights” misleads your readers into thinking homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, even a virtuous one, and more virtuous than the faith of “American Christians.” Elsewhere, you state, “Gay marriage and gay parents aren’t a threat to children,” a statement which flies in the face of basic psychology, as well as Orthodox Christian common sense.

    We are concerned about your public stereotyping of Christians, especially those who collectively seek to influence our nation toward moral sanity. You not only judge the hearts of evangelical leaders by name, but you publicly proclaim them “haters,” “fools” and “liars,” full of “hysteria” and “anti abortion absolutism.” You judge them –by name– as “hate-filled,” “notorious gay bashers,” and analogize the National Prayer Breakfast to a Ku Klux Klan meeting. This is slander. We fear that while you vehemently decry evangelicals, it is your angry rhetoric which is giving Orthodox Christianity a bad name. You certainly may hold opinions for or against political positions, but to condemn an entire party as a “lynch mob” is both untrue and unchristian.

    But your condemnation is not reserved for evangelicals alone. You state definitively that “If it was up to the American Roman Catholic bishops there would be no health care reform,” which is a misrepresentation of the bishops’ call to take abortion out of healthcare, and is patently false. (Those very bishops were among the strongest advocates of healthcare reform; they simply wanted the killing of children out of it.) It seems anyone who disagrees with President Obama you label, “evil,” and desiring murder and violence. You even accuse those who oppose various Obama policies as racially motivated!

    Your exegesis misrepresents the Orthodox Church’s teaching, and even Her respect for the integrity and truthfulness of holy Scripture itself. You misquote Jesus, writing in His voice, “If gay men and women are asking to be allowed to marry, I commanded you to give to him who asks of you.” With this sentence you disregard the Church’s teaching and pervert Jesus’ message at the same time. You present the Lord as saying, “Ignore the dumb harsh parts of the Bible. That is my message: pick the good, leave out the bad. The Bible is just a book.” You teach, “There is no Heaven or Hell,” without the necessary explanation for your readers to understand that in the age to come there is either eternal torment or the joy of Christ’s Kingdom. You falsely state that the Bible “doesn’t match reality,” and advise people to “reject the parts of one’s scriptures outright that fly in the face of fact, compassion and decency” (as understood by the fallen individual). You speak of the theory of evolution as “proven Darwinian biological evolutionary science,” and juxtapose it against a caricature of the biblical account of creation. You recently wrote, “…the best thing a believer in any actual God can do is to admit that a lot of the Bible is hate filled blasphemy.” These statements are against our Holy Tradition.

    We read with concern your tendency to lump all religions into one, relatively equal faith system. You defend the “truth” that “we can’t know anything conclusively because we are evolving and not “there” yet (wherever there is!).” You write, “The next great task for the human race is to wean ourselves off literal interpretations of religion. We need to eradicate fundamentalism in all its forms.” This is contrary to all the Fathers and Mothers and Monks and Nuns and Hierarchs and Faithful of the Orthodox Church stood for, and all the Martyrs died for. “God has revealed Himself to us!,” we proclaim with joy in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

    We are concerned about your misrepresentation of apophatic theology, which can easily lead others away from the true God. It seems to us that you misunderstand the quotes you cite (“Do not define the Deity”), doing precisely what you accuse evangelicals of by taking them out of context and overly literally. Apophatic theology is not “anti-theology,” as you teach; and though, as you point out, “this way of perceiving God is found not just in Christianity but in other religions too,” our Tradition is quite specifically Christian, and we claim that Christ is The Truth for all. Apophatic theology does not endorse the subjectivity you imply, or that truth is relative to individual experience. You misunderstand the patristic use of the concept of “being” (and “wise” and “good”) when you write that God neither exists nor doesn’t exist. Likewise when you teach that “one should never claim God is ‘one’ or ‘three.’” This kind of teaching confuses and misleads many. The whole point is that God is above us, beyond our finite categories of understanding. But our Gospel message itself is about a particular God, Who is the one, true God, and Who is knowable Personally, through His only Son, Jesus Christ. Orthodox apophatic theology absolutely affirms that God is Three Persons with One Nature.

    And now, again in The Huffington Post, you recently use inflammatory rhetoric against Orthodox and other Christians who oppose the building of a mosque near Ground Zero, calling them “racists.” How can you judge others’ hearts as “racists”?

    We ask you to reconsider your public comments. We urge you to take public stands consistent with The Orthodox Church that teach abortion is murder and is never a “choice.” Evangelical Christians should not to be vilified or ridiculed for positions which are consistent with Orthodox moral tradition. Destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation kills a human being. Homosexual behavior is not healthy, not for participants or for children in such an environment, or for society at large. The Orthodox Church believes in and defends the integrity of the Bible. All religions are not equal. And racism does not motivate Christians who hold the opinion that it is inappropriate to build a mosque at Ground Zero.

    I’m sure as Orthodox faithful we may disagree on various current events in the political realm. But as Orthodox Christians there are principles and doctrines which transcend personal opinion and which we are bound to support. These issues seem to us to be so plain and clear that we would ask you in brotherly love: if you feel you cannot correct yourself and retract your inflammatory public statements and judgments, that you refrain from public speaking.

    It is with genuine love and respect that we write to you. If in anything we have offended you, we apologize. We offer you this correction in the spirit of humility, welcoming any corrective response from you.


    V. Rev. Fr. Mark Hodges, Lima, Ohio


    • Fr. Peter Dubinin :

      Of course Fr. you are not going to receive a response; your presentation is too well reasoned and devoid of vitriol and hysterics. Well done. Peace.

    • Father Mark:

      What an absolutely beautiful letter you had composed to Franky. I agree with you as well, that that letter should have been signed by many, and in my opinion particularly the hierarchy, calling for him to repent of his treason. I knew Franky had gone off the rails when he had written his overly dramatic book about his son’s Marine Corps experience, which is called “Keeping Faith.” The book is inappropriately filled with profanity and sexual content. The bipolar nature of the man can clearly been see when reading “Dancing Alone” and the latter and then comparing and contrasting the two. The final nail in the coffin for we with this loon was when he wrote that shameless autobiography about this father and family, which I think is called “Crazy for God.” Frank is serving multiple masters, or perhaps he is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, for he intially had waved the flag of Orthodoxy; then it was the flag of the Marine Corps; and now sadly, he is flying the flag of Obama and liberal lunacy. I guess it is true about the GOA Hierarchy. They have bigger fish to fry.

      • Wesley J. Smith :

        Fr. bless:

        I am not impressed in the least with Frank Schaeffer. I recall during my conversion process more than four years ago, I listened to a recording one of his speeches at a (as I recall) Greek church, and he was critical because (as I recall) they had an organ, stating it was not the Orthodox way. So, one could certainly get whiplash from his different public statements.

        But I think it is denigrating to call him “Franky.” If the goal is to bring him lovingly to repentance, that kind of diminution of the man doesn’t seem to me to be the right approach. Please forgive my pointing out the splinter from my own log-filled eye.

        • I don’t know why but everyone, not just myself, called Frank “Franky” in the 80s and early 90s (perhaps to distinguish him from his father, I don’t know). He always went by that name, as far as I knew, until I heard he came to prefer “Frank” about 19 or 20 years ago, around the time of his conversion to holy Orthodoxy. One of his spiritual guides into the Church, Fr Gordon Walker, had chrismated me and we shared about Franky. It’s not only the only way I knew him, but the name he preferred at the time, at least as best I knew. Nothing denigrating about it; no insult intended at all. You’ll notice I called him “Frank” in the letter, because by then he had long preferred that.

          • Geo Michalopulos :

            For the record, it was in my home parish (Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Tulsa, OK) that Franky spoke against pews and organs. He had much wisdom then and I don’t believe it was an act. Later that evening, Franky and I went for drinks and were joined by a good friend of mine (whose even more conservative than I am). In the spirit of in vino, veritas, I can honestly say that Franky was very much on the politcal Right.

            He needs prayer. I think Maxim may be on to something, a nervous breakdown perhaps.

          • Wesley J. Smith :

            Fr. bless:

            Thank you for that clarification. Some clearly use the moniker now as a way of belittling. I am sorry that I misunderstood.

  4. Thanks for this great article. One thing we can definitely see is that Frank Schaeffer is only accountable to Frank Schaeffer. He does not see himself as accountable to -or a servant of- any type of Tradition or Authority let alone the Church. This is not Orthodoxy but a fashionable fundamentalism. Frank Schaeffer along with more and more people identify themselves as Orthodox Christians yet create their own Orthodoxy under phony claims of apophaticism and mystery.

    I would also like to point out that Frank’s “Orthodoxy” operates due in large part to the apathy of the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Frank can ramble all he wants to with no accountability to the Church because the GOA’s priority is Omogenia (race) before Orthodoxy. Something tells me though if Frank starting focusing his rage and encouraged protests of wealthy GOA Wall Street Tycoons, overpaid GOA bishops, and an Ecumenical Patriarch who flies on a private jets that the folks at 79th Street would show him the door fast if not disavow him altogether.

    In the end though, Frank Schaeffer is one of the great tragic figures in American Orthodoxy. There really is no happy ending for Frank Schaeffer on his current path and his ability to re-invent himself is coming to an end. He is not a well man and deserves our prayers for healing.

    Frank reminds me of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz reading TS Eliots poem “The Hollow Men” in the video below.

    • Andrew, on “There really is no happy ending for Frank Schaeffer on his current path” I disagree.

      Yes, he is lost. Yes, he is going towards a cliff. And yes “his ability to re-invent himself is coming to an end”. That last point is his hope. He cannot keep running and he will either have to give up Christianity or be forced to face himself and God and repent in ashes and sackcloth. Someone with Frank Schaeffer’s passion cannot settle for a wishy washy religion like Buddhism or true secular liberalism. If he doesn’t keep running by converting to Islam, he will be forced to face his demons…at least if he doesn’t die before that happens.

  5. By his own admission Frank is a liar and a hypocrite. In a revealing New York Times article published on Aug. 19, 2011 Franky confirmed that he often “faked it” so he could make more money and benefit his own career. Apparently cold hard cash and his own giant ego take precedence over truth, character, ethics, and integrity.

    His break with conservatism, and with evangelicalism, came in the late 1980s. But he had long been skeptical of many of his bedfellows. He found the television pastor Pat Robertson and some of his colleagues to be “idiots,” he told me last week, when we met for coffee in western Massachusetts. Looking back, Mr. Schaeffer says that once he became disillusioned he “faked it the whole way.”

    He faked it because it was easy, it was lucrative, and — rather poignant to say — he felt he had no other options.

    “I had been home-schooled,” Mr. Schaeffer told me. “I had no education, no qualifications, and I was groomed to do this stuff. What was I going to do? If two lines are forming, and one has a $10,000 honorarium to go to a Christian Booksellers Association conference and keynote, and the other is to consider your doubts and get out with nothing else to do, what are you going to do?”

    Clearly love of money and love of self are primary motivators for this shameless impostor. Frank Schaeffaer is basically just another ideological prostitute who sells his public “opinions” to the highest bidder. He dares to lecture others on morality, justice, and ethics, while he himself built an entire career on “faked” beliefs promoted only to enrich himself and become famous. The man has ZERO credibility and is not to be trusted in anything he says and does.

  6. M. Stankovich :

    I had heard many things of Frank(y) Schaeffer, particularly as an inspired chronicler of the “path to Orthodoxy,” that when I found myself with the opportunity to read an “electronic” version of a recent book, I downloaded it. As I read and was confronted with what he has since described “might be interpreted as a rant” no matter how I skipped around in the book, I went back to the Amazon site to confirm I actually had the “right guy.” The excoriation of his parents by revealing intimate, personal details – in my reading, a purposeful casting of them as “freaks” – is not just inappropriate but is embarrassing of him, and I deleted the book. It seems to me that, from afar, the medical/psychiatric/psychological/spiritual “possibilities” are many – and it would appear that many who know him see something is terribly wrong. I personally fail to see the usefulness of speculation.

    Likewise, I am dismayed at the suggestion that Mr. Schaeffer arrived at Orthodoxy as an alternative, implying for a “wrong” reason(s); the call, the path, the journey, however you wish to describe it, is not the coy “seduction” of a woman (Prov. 6:24-5), but the “Fire from Fire” that is the Spirit of Truth. What one chooses subsequent to accepting this call is entirely another matter. Let charity allow Mr. Schaeffer that much.

    I would like to say to Fr. Mark that I am humbled by your statement, “Evangelical Christians should not to be vilified or ridiculed for positions which are consistent with Orthodox moral tradition.” While I am quick to be intolerant of what I perceive as “unsupported generalizations” cast in my direction, you remind me that I am reciprocally disingenuous more than I wish to admit.

  7. I listened to all 26 minutes and 22 seconds of the 2002 video. In light of where he is today one is left to wonder: What happened? Is it as Chris highlighted above, that he just needed to make money, so he took the bombastic path he knew so well? Perhaps. Who can really know all the forces that shape a person? As I watched I marveled at his delivery, his ability to illustrate, and to turn a phrase. What a fantastic speaker he was (is?). For example:

    “We know that Orthodoxy survives oppression… Does it survive seduction? … Orthodoxy in North America, the jury is out on it. We know Orthodoxy survives persecution. Does it survive seduction?” (11:55 and 18:30)

    “That’s what makes Marines: obedience, training, discipline, struggle. And guess what? It’s the same thing that makes Orthodox.” (24:20)

    (About ¾ of the way through I did begin to wonder how the speech, with all its anti-Islam references, would have been received in the Antiochian Church. I imagine that they have a more nuanced understanding of Arab-U.S. relations than most people. Maybe it would have been fine; just a thought.)

    Near the beginning a harbinger about “the easy fast buck” caught my ear.

    “This country could learn something from the Orthodox witness in history and in time to suffering and martyrdom… We do not know much about suffering for what we believe. We know more about success and the easy fast buck and the quick road to personal gratification than we do about martyrdom.” (1:30)

    But through it all I could not divorce myself from the present and the uneasy feeling that in that video I may well have been watching a latent Elmer Gantry.


    I wonder if the church he was speaking at got rid of their organ?

    • Frank’s speeches in favor of Orthodoxy were the same kind of rants. He has never had a spirit of peace about him. He thrives on binaries and oppositions. I never got the appeal frankly.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Greg, a couple of responses. First of all, as far as money is concerned, I’m pretty sure we only paid him $1,000, a very small honorarium in my opinion (especially if he was pulling down $20K at the CBA or whatever). Second, the church still has the organ, sad to say.

      What’s tragic is that his bombast in favor or Orthopraxy has now discredited Orthopraxy. The messenger killed the message. Sigh.

  8. Lest someone suggest there is no irony, I was searching Google Images on the outside chance there is an Orthodox icon of the encounter of Jesus and the sinful woman (Jn. 8:11) – variations on “neither do I condemn you” – to find that when searching “orthodox icon i do not condemn you,” at approximately half-way through the first page of assorted icons, monks, and clergy, is… Frank Schaeffer. And the link is quite the antithesis. Personally, I start to get nervous when “Oficial militar” talk of “Christian duty” and start that “[you] serve the spirit of Antichrist” business. Bad enough thinking that I’m issued a vest that can supposedly withstand an axe-blow at close range, without having to consider that while some may weep, the ones to fear are those that gnash their teeth.

  9. cynthia curran :

    I wonder if Frank Schaeffer ever read John Malalas that the emperor Justinian had some bishops who were accussed of sex with boys paraded around and then casrated and then they died which according to John Malalas put the fear of God into people. I know no one on the religious right which I don’t always agree with going to this extreme but Byzantines sometimes treated homosexuals more servere or rumored homosexauls more severe than modern american society does.

  10. My big mistake was to get totally into Frank’s books & tapes when I converted to Orthodoxy 6 years ago. I was an Orthodox Triumphalist on steroids, and didn’t even know it. I’m still patching up relationships w/Protestant friend & family. Oy.

    • Pete:

      I don’t think it was a mistake for you to get totally into Frank’s books and tapes because I did that, and I seriously believe that I had benefited from it. He possessed so much zeal with his research and conversion experience and spoke with, I felt, much conviction. This “new” so-called enlightened Frank is not the Frank I know from his prior Orthodox flag waving days. Frank’s book of conversion to Orthodoxy, “Dancing Alone,” was written with some anger. Some loving alternatives to Frank’s books would be Bishop Kallistos Ware’s “The Orthodox Church,” Matthew Gallatin’s “Thirsting for Water in a Land of Shallow Wells,” and anything from Dr. Clark Carlton. You might want to check them out.

  11. Perhaps you all here think that the OWS have no valid gripe or, if they do, haven’t articulated yet?

    How about the following? Reform in these areas will benefit everyone, affluent or not:

    1) No more CEO golden parachutes when their actions have cost their corporations millions of dollars and hundreds or even thousands of jobs. It is unconscionable for these men to retire in extreme luxury when their actions have underlined their own laziness, incompetence and even corruption.

    2) Force credit card companies to abide by state usury laws when their customers pay on time and are making at least the minimum payments. I have a credit score of close to 800, yet that didn’t keep one of my card companies from jacking my APR to almost 25% on a $2,500 balance, despite my having paid at least 4-5 times the monthly minimum payment always on time. I have some means, so it wasn’t difficult to switch to a different company and pay it off in a couple months. While some people surely misuse credit lines, the economic downtown has forced many families to use these for basic needs. I’m all for companies making a profit, but not for them financially raping their customers, especially those who can least afford it.

    3) Reduce over-reliance on the mystical voodoo science known as credit scoring in favor of other proven means of income, job history and credit worthiness. That, or divulge the way these scores are calculated. Why is someone who pays off a $5,000 balance every month a “worse” credit risk than someone who carries a balance and never pays it off? No one knows. Well, yeah we do: the latter is more profitable to the bank due to the interest generated.

    4) Finally, no more ARM or interest-only loans for home buyers. These loans are partially responsible for the escalating home prices in many areas (and the inevitable crash later). Consumers have historically thought that banks are acting responsibly for both parties. They haven’t been as of late: these banks will get you in as big and as expensive a home as you can squeak out of your paycheck. This ends up creating a demand for more expensive homes, which in turn raises prices as demand increases. The cycle continues and you have what happened to us in 2008: a giant bubble.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Rob, much of what the OWS believe is puerile nonsense. With a lot of anti-Semitism thrown in. Reform is needed but it was “reform” in the form of sub-prime mortgages, forcing banks to make improvident loans, untrammelled illegal immigration, the feminization of the workforce (which like immigration has lowered the wages of working men) and debased morality that got us where we are today.

  12. Schaeffer is quoted as having said the following at the recent “Wild Goose” meeting in North Carolina:

    ‘”Paul, in the Bible, tells my wife to be silent in church. Screw St. Paul, screw him!” shouted a visibly angry Frank Schaeffer during one session of the festival. Schaeffer, son of deceased author and evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer, lamented his family’s role in building the “Religious Right,” and the gathered audience of disaffected former evangelicals and other Religious Left groups affirmed his message. Schaeffer’s presentation seemed intentionally designed to offend traditionalists, leading to gleeful claps of approval from the audience.”

    It is clear to me that Frank has become unhinged. Why the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA) does not censure him is beyond me.

    • Well Look What We Have Here folks! Somebody has put up a collection of Franks Rantings from the 2011 Wild Goose Chase Conference On You Tube. There are 3 videos I think but this one is a collection of his ramblings.

      Here is the video:

      Frank Schaeffer Wild Goose Chase 2011

      Now from what I can see he does not say “Screw St. Paul” He says Screw the person who believes what St. Paul Believes :). This clip is at the 5:00 minute mark. At the 2:00 minute mark you can see Frank ramble about how Christianity is not about correctness of belief. At about 3:00 he says salvation is not about correct belief.

      This 7 minutes is all you need to know about where Frank Schaeffer stand towards Orthodoxy today.

      Pray for him.

      • That’s a really disturbing video. Why is the Orthodox Church allowing this impostor to preach to the people? He is a false prophet that confuses others with his subjective, hate-filled, superficial, and biased understanding of the Scriptures and Christian theology.

        He is free to believe and do whatever he likes, but he has NO business and NO right to leverage the moral authority of the Orthodox Church and use it to undermine the faith and lead others astray.

  13. I received a copy of the Regina Press catalog the other day. I believe Frank still owns that press. They are certainly still selling all of his books and talks as if he was still Orthodox. They should at least introduce him as a “former Orthodox Christian.” If he had any integrity left he would break with Orthodoxy publicly and stop trying to profit from both ends.

    And for the record, St. Paul appears to have been telling a specific group of women in a specific church to not talk among themselves when they didn’t understand the words of the service.

  14. cynthia curran :

    Personality, I think he is just angry and a lot of the problems lies within himself. I can say this as well a lot of the problems with myself is me not those around me. Its my sin not the sin of others. This is not a perfect world, so one has to look at oneself rather then the faults and sins of others.

  15. From the negligence of prayer we suffer temptations of all kind including thoughts of blasphemy and vain imaginations.
    Frank should have a spiritual father whose prayer towards God for him would be a spiritual umbrella of protection from the rains of deceiving thoughts and impulses of self-regard.

  16. The Bible is based on “literal, Bronze Age B.S…” He follows that which he knows is right…hmmm.

    • Kevin, I hear you. There has to be a boundary one crosses where one finds oneself outside of the Orthodox Church. If such a boundary does not exist then in reality Orthodoxy does not exist.

      • Yes, well said.

        • Kevin, that being said this issue is much larger than the personality of Frank Schaeffer. Its about the ability of the Church live its faith to the fullest. Mr. Schaeffer is a symptom of a much larger problem and that is: Can the conciliar structures of Orthodox governance as they presently exist enforce real boundaries and discipline in the Church? Can the Church be the loving parent it is called to be?

          Frank has learned the trick of defining Orthodoxy down. There are also many folks who are working their way through advanced theology degrees who have learned this tactic as well and as a result all types of theological and moral craziness is viewed as normal. The present state of Orthodox leadership and governance is a problem that threatens to unravel the gift of Orthodox Christianity. Unless the damage is repaired the ability of the Church to communicate the faith will be compromised and people will be hurt.

          • Andrew, you speak of discipline and boundaries. Look at how the Orthodox and Roman churches that emphasize that retain as clergy those who not only cross lines themselves, but involve others in so doing (sexual misconduct takes two). You speak of clever theological tactics but what we are given to see in leadership is coarse, blunt and often the other person is more a victim than an accomplice. The only way to not see it is to not want to see it.

            Sometimes I think we want to focus on these technical theological discussions because there’s something civilized about them. But what we’re seeing in high places– it doesn’t involve a single ‘iota’ and is then invisible?

            • Harry, I agree with you completely. I think we are in the midst of a breakdown in the structures of Orthodox governance.

              • Geo Michalopulos :

                One can only hope so. The present governance model of the OCA, with the MC being superior to the episcopate needs to be broken down completely.

                • George, great job blogging the AAC on your website. The thing that horrified me the most in reading the many stories and comments on your blog was the comment that certain folks twisted the OCA statue to believe that the AAC is subservient to the MC. This is insanity and its like saying that the voters are the servants of congress. I hope you will follow-up in your reflecitons in the days ahead and publish something that addresses this on your blog. Its a total breakdown in basic Orthodox Church governance. We now have an OCA that is governed by parliamentary tricks and the will to power. The entire servant model of leadership has been obliterated, its now everyone for themselves to get the last piece of Church ‘s monies.

                  Meanwhile all all types of people and experts running around telling us that Orthodoxy is a moral and theological free for all. In the absence of pastoral authority this chaos will continue and continue unabated.

                  I have been Orthodox all my life and always held on during my youth and tough times with the hope that time will make things better. Things have to improve. Now I find myself wondering if our leadship can correct itself and fulfill even the most basic apostolic responsibilities.

                  According to St. Augustine, a bishop’s job is as follows:

                  “To rebuke those who stir up strife, to comfort those of little courage, to take the part of the weak, to refute opponents, to be on guard against traps, to teach the ignorant, to shake the indolent awake, to discourage those who want to buy and sell, to put the presumptuous in their place, to modify the quarrelsome, to help the poor, to liberate the oppressed, to encourage the good, to suffer the evil and to love all men.”

                  Now how many Orthodox Bishops in America do this or at least try to do this?

                  • Andrew, objectively it appears the only thing a bishop can’t do and retain his rank/position is sign the Manhattan Declaration. We have one who another said sexually exploited his brother. That bishop is still to be called ‘Your Grace’ according to the ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’ , and you are to kiss his hand still upon meeting him. Sure. That’s likely.

                    Please, give generously. And, bring the kids!!

                    • Michael Bauman :

                      Harry, I’ve been asking those who attacked +Jonah for their reasons since the whole thing began. The response to such direct questions has been deafening silence.

                      The real reasons seem to be jealousy, envy, lust of power and fear. Those are the motivations that generally fuel such all out scape-goating.

                      My bishop, Bp. Basil, is fine because he has the respect and the support of his diocese and (mostly) his Metropolitan.

                      Bp Basil has the support of his diocese because of his love and care of us. He has the (grudging) support of his Metropolitan because no fault can be found in him.

                      Met. Jonah’s support is more diffuse and has shorter, younger roots. There is simply no authority in the OCA to grant him support otherwise….something to ponder.

                    • I wonder if what we have here is a presumption that the leader of the synod also be the one to make all manner of administrative and personnel decisions, and generally order and boss around and trade loyalty for protection to everyone else ‘below’.

                      Why not have the synod meet often and make the administrative calls while having a chancellor give the decisions effect but not be able to make decisions with effect beyond the next synod meeting himself?

                      Then the Archbishop / Metropolitan can be a visionary inspirational type going around making speeches and missionizing, fundraising and so forth. Speak to the moral issues of the day and generally lead the synod in the manner of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and not the President of the USA?

                      I think that might be what people expected when they voted for him, anyway. The old guard just has expectations of what the man in the big hat is supposed to do, and he’s not that guy.

                  • Michael Bauman :

                    Andrew: I personally know two. Given that no man can be perfect at it, there are more perhaps…..and Harry, my bishop signed the Manhattan Declaration and is still doing just fine.

                    • Michael, so what is it then +Jonah specifically did that earned him two bishop escorts to the Vatican’s mental/sexual/substance health facility, where the escorts get a copy of the report? Do all the bishops share medical records with one another? Why him only?

                      Did he harm someone? Did he knowingly overlook to protect someone he should have protected? Did he toss the creed in the trash?

                      All we are given to see is non-doctrinal policy disagreements (moving the HQ, etc) and personality incompatibilities. For that it’s apropos to force him into the Vatican’s facility for evaluation? Really?

  17. cynthia curran :

    Well, its truce that the earlier periods of the bible were bronze age as Frank stated and of course the world was very different. Laws about land marks boundaries and so forth reflect the ancient near east as George stated some of their laws like having women marry their date rapists seem strange but as George stated before in another blog it protect the women from having to rise a child on their own if they became with child but it still seems harsh.

    • Cynthia,

      Yes this is true…but I thought that’s what we have an Orthodox biblical Tradition for…to help us sort these things out. I did not hear Frank refer to any Church Fathers or canonical dogma. What I heard was a man who has become — or so it seems to me — his own divider of truth (the job of the Bishop). Sounds to me like he’s back to…”Dancing Alone”.

  18. Brian Stephen :

    Frank strikes again on Huffington Post

    I became Orthodox due to reading the Christian Activist and owe a great debt to Frank. However, he clearly no longer holds to the tenets of the Orthodox Church. It is confusing, to say the least, to many who have looked to him as a de facto Orthodox leader. If he has any integrity left at all, he should at least admit that he no longer believes what is the clear teaching in the Orthodox church or leave the Orthodox Church and become Episcopalian.

    You would think that his priest or bishop would discipline him but this may be too much to ask since he said in the “Wild Goose” talk that a lesbian is on his parish council and because his priest is “a good man”, he permits this. So maybe Frank’s liberalism is simply a symptom of heresy permitted in some parishes and dioceses.

    I wish I was wrong. I’ll admit that some days I would like to punch Frank right in the mouth as St. Nicholas did to Arius– yes I realize that is not a healthy Orthodox response but how Frank went from being a conservative if not firery mouthpiece for the Orthodox Church to the Michael Moore of Orthodoxy baffles me beyond belief. Can anyone say reaction formation?

    • Categories that involve doing are the ones that matter. Anything else is somewhere between a Rorschach ‘what does this ink blot look most like’ test and a wrestling match. Talking about the latter has more to do with to which parties one gets invited, and on the other hand who it is on the phone when yours doesn’t ring.

  19. cynthia curran :

    Well, reading his book about when his son join the military service, Frank did mention that he was loyal to the same wife since age 17 which is extraordinary in itself. So, Frank does support family values and loyalty to one’s wife. This is the good point about Frank, as others mention just wishing he would not be so anti-protestant or catholic or anti-conservative orthodox in his statements.

  20. cynthia curran :

    Well, this is what I can say to Frank, a lot of well to do Byzantines didn’t have much hardship either since they had slaves or servants doing things for them. The same I say for most of the emperors in Byzantium in fact historians state that the average emperor lived to about 78 in a world where the average person just lived only 35 to 40 years old. So, stopped picking the on the US and US religous beliefs when the Byzantines from Theodosius up had a state religon where almost everyone was christian whether they had watched the future empress Theodora performed in Leda and the Swan. or not.

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