“The wise conceal knowledge, but the mouth of the fool is close to confusion.” – Proverbs 10:14
I have a confession. I despise with an unbridled passion online Christian apologetics. It is a paradoxical sentiment given that so much of what I have written here qualifies as apologetics, at least in some sense. When I first started this blog, I did so in reaction to some Catholic pop-apologetics. At the time, I not only wanted to argue about my faith, I also wanted to lead people to what I thought was right. I had scarcely been Orthodox for two years. In a sense, my approach was all wrong and the results demonstrated it too. I very likely pushed a friend away from Orthodoxy because of my argumentative nature. Furthermore, I said many unchristian things in forums, such as accusing people of heresy or claiming myself to be better than others, because of that “need” to be right in an argument. In many ways, the words of Fr. Stephen Freeman describe me during those times and in a similar fashion so too the words of Frederica Mathewes-Green, detailing the fetishes that new converts often embrace. What motivated me was often pride, not love. And those, who do not know love, cannot know God (1 John 4:8). What I thought was reasonable was indeed false reason, nothing more than a series of verisimilitudes. Mature Orthodox don’t feel the need to argue their faith or at the very least don’t seek out argument.
As the years have passed, I’ve increasingly shied away from apologetics. My last clearly apologetic post dates from nearly three years ago, my sequel to my first post on divorce and remarriage. That post and its predecessor remain my most regularly read items today. Lots of good work and research went into those posts, but my motivations were frivolous and pathetic – always to aggrandize my own intellect, always seeking a victory in argument. Since then, most of my posts have pertained to my floating interests – philosophy, video games, and some tidbits of theology like free will and more ecumenical matters. On occasion, I’ve made a return to apologetics, against a Catholic and against a fellow Orthodox. I cannot say that I regret writing these, as flawed as they may or may not be, because I did not write them in the spirit of “showing that son of a bitch who’s right.” I only wrote them because I had my own thoughts and desired to just serve as a starting point for others to look into things themselves, to be a rough index or annotated bibliography one might say. My tone in them is acrid for sure, but if they don’t work, they don’t work. Big deal. Tertullian was skeptical of the results of these types of engagements, writing that they are often inconclusive, especially in the eyes of third-party observers (De praescriptione haereticorum 18-19).
All of these thoughts bring me to the subject at hand – Orthodox, inquirers, or whoever should never substitute apologetic blogs for real discussion, real learning, real living. We, by which I mean apologists including myself, are far too often a prideful and rent-seeking species. Ask yourself, what benefit is there to argument about the faith? Perhaps there is some clarity, but otherwise the benefits are quite small at best. As St. Augustine of Hippo once wrote, “The [holy] way is what will lead to God if we hold fast to it in life; and if we do not hold fast to it in life, we will not come to God” (De ordine PL 32:0990). In brief, holy living will reveal the truth. Intellectualizing the faith, reading the faith, and so forth cannot replace consultation with one’s priest, it cannot replace regular worship or the divine liturgy, it cannot replace prayer, and it certainly cannot replace treating your neighbor according to the image of God found within them – all forms of real discussion, real learning, real living. Throughout my years in Orthodox apologetics, not only have I fallen into this error numerous times, but I’ve seen my fellow apologists fall into it as well. It is to them I will now name, because I want people to listen to us less, to stop cheering us on in live streams, to stop treating us as rock stars in vapid Discord servers, to stop taking sides like fan girls in petty internet fights. We deserve none of that, because we are the worst.
Avoid Jay Dyer. Let me repeat that, have nothing to do with Jay Dyer. For all his reading and his supposed learning, Dyer is nothing more than a conspiracy theorist and huckster, dabbling in a wide net of subjects so as to gain access to as many honeypots as possible. He, along with other despicable types like Alex Jones, spins conspiracy theories about a globalist elite, conniving to ruin your life. He sows discord among people, encouraging them to distrust and disobey proper authorities, even in the midst of trying and desperate times. Does not the Apostle Peter warn against this behavior? He says:
The Lord knows how to deliver the godly from temptation, but on the day of judgement the unjust shall be tormented. And especially them who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise government: audacious, self willed, they fear not to bring in sects, blaspheming.
So too does the Apostle Paul say the same:
Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God and those that are ordained of God. Therefore, he that resists the magistrate resists the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good and you shall have praise from the same.
Even our Lord says, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
Audacity, self will – these are the symptoms of pride. St. Ambrose of Milan warns us against this sin saying, “The greatest sin in man is pride. Indeed thence flows the origin of our sin” (Expositio in Psalmum PL 15:1283A). God has not placed Dyer in governance, yet he seeks to emulate governance in the name of freedom, influencing others to think and behave like himself. There is no freedom in flaunting what God has established. True freedom is freedom from sin (Romans 6:22).
Should this understanding then be construed as following earthly authority in every matter? Of course not. That would violate the Lord’s aforementioned maxim. Yet to defy earthly authority merely for the sake of earthly goods cannot under any circumstances be excused. And any attempt to cloak earthly goods as heavenly goods for excusing such disobedience would but make a mockery of the holy martyrs.
Next, avoid the Orthodox Apologetics War Room Facebook page. It is private, but from experience there is nothing there that resembles charity or love. People are regularly spurned, slandered, and banned without provocation – although the latter probably spares you trouble. It contains nothing but argument and the most vapid, masturbatory spirituality. It is not surprising that it is run by so-called “True Orthodox” whose entire existence is centered around their schism and neurotic obsession of being “more Orthodox than thou.”
And lastly, avoid Craig Truglia. Indeed, he was the catalyst more or less for this very post. Setting aside his personal squabbles with me (here and here), Truglia has over the past many months increasingly engaged in unchristian behaviors towards others. These behaviors include things such as accusing a priest of lying and heresy, addressing a priest in a haughty and sarcastic manner, slandering and undermining bishops of the Orthodox Church in both Russia and the United States, declaring the holy synods of the Orthodox Church to be corrupted by modernism and a series of other ills thereby blaspheming them, and so forth and so forth. While I have in the past publicly criticized church hierarchs, it is something I regret. It was not wise nor just. In any case, these deeds must be documented to drive home the fact that you should listen to us apologists less! I will try to be brief.
On Fr. Kimel’s blog, Eclectic Orthodoxy, Truglia publicly accused Fr. Kimel of lying. The relevant images are listed below, the fourth image being from Truglia’s blog:
Here one can witness Truglia publicly accusing a priest of lying, when in fact the shoe is on the other foot. Furthermore, he addresses the father in the most irreverent of fashion, mocking him with links to Bon Jovi songs. How is any such behavior reasonable, let alone done out of charity? The answer is that it isn’t.
Next, Truglia has publicly criticized Bishop Pitirim of Zvenigorod of the Russian Orthodox Church for claiming that Covid-19 made him sick within the walls of his church. In his letter, Bishop Pitirim details the unspeakable tragedy that this plague has visited upon the Russian Orthodox Church, killing many clergy. Truglia criticizes the bishop because it substantiates a narrative that he dislikes (see image below) – that there are rational and pious reasons for limiting or closing churches in the midst of a global pandemic. He endorses skepticism of the bishop’s claims, asking how precisely does he know that it was within the walls of the church that Bishop Pitirim contracted the disease. With that level of skepticism, one could just as easily ask how Truglia knows that he isn’t living in the Matrix. Truglia doesn’t ask himself the latter question, because the precise reason for asking the former question is to puff up his sense of pride and entitlement, not a commitment to skepticism. The bishop wisely came out with his letter because he wanted to advise his flock to be more cautious and not to listen to wolves in sheep’s wandering the internet. As the prophet Solomon says, “Among the proud there are always contentions: but they that do all things with counsel, are ruled by wisdom” (Proverbs 13:10).
Meanwhile, on his YouTube channel, Truglia has publicly criticized Archbishop Alexander of Dallas of the Orthodox Church in America for so-called childish behavior. In his letter, Archbishop Alexander warns his flock, in both his own words and that of one of his priests, against those who have criticized the episcopal and synodal decisions regarding Covid-19. For Truglia, the archbishop’s tone is all wrong, too mean, too childish. If Truglia had ever read an episcopal letter beforehand, he would know that the archbishop’s tone is in exact keeping with how bishops have talked for thousands of years. Look no further than the opening words of St. Leo of Rome in his famous tome! By comparison, the archbishop is far more tame.
Elsewhere, Truglia actively encourages Orthodox Christians to kiss the icons during this global pandemic, despite the fact that the holy synod of the OCA has explicitly forbidden this act. He even goes as far as to say that if death results, it could be a blessing in disguise. How convenient for him, to cloak his pride and arrogance in the garb of God’s will! Truglia risks blood on his own hands! Now Truglia himself is not a member of the OCA, but one must inquire, who is he to functionally preach to others on such matters without regard to jurisdiction? From whom does he gain this authorization? Nowhere. Even if his own bishop granted him authority (which I doubt), it does not give him the right to actively encourage Orthodox, especially outside his jurisdiction, to risk spiritual and physical death, thus tempting the Lord thy God (Matthew 4:7).
Finally, Truglia blasphemes against the Orthodox Church and its holy synods, stating that the reason that the hierarchs have not obliged to condemn those whom Truglia deems as heretics in the present-day is because there is a vast corruption and conspiracy of modernists within the church (here and here). He never substantiates such claims. Instead, he is content to condemn the church hierarchy and academic scholars as corrupt, despite the fact that he depends on their translations and their expertise to even read the sources that he uses as a basis of disagreement. This is a case of not only prideful anti-intellectualism, but of hypocrisy. In his quest to be right, Truglia has blasphemed.
To conclude – and there is more I could say, but this post is already long enough – stop reading us apologists so much! Listen to us less! Do not treat us as idols! We cannot lead you to a deeper spirituality! Listen to your priest and superiors, pray, fast, attend divine liturgy when you can, and treat your neighbor in accordance with the image of God within them. If you must read, then read books written by Orthodox clergy and theologians. If you must read us, treat us as no more than a casual curiosity or simple index – for we are laymen and the worst sort at that. For far too often, apologists are the great deceivers, of whom St. Gregory of Tours details in his own time (Libri decem historiarum Book 9, Chapter 6). When it comes to apologists, caveat fidelis – let the faithful one beware! And if you fear losing an argument about the faith on the internet or in person, don’t worry. For a few losses God’s love will compensate.
Pedantics over what priest said what the issue over Origen should have been settled a long time ago by following the councils. Origenism is a major problem and we can see it in many scholars and priests, even an OCA Bishop discarding the councils to go beyond using him as a patristic writer. David Bentley Hart is an example of this. It helps update the theology to modernity and ecumenism. Period.
And if we want the laity and the catechumen to have no anxiety about the king and the Bishop then it needs to stop and that and standing against antireligious government and ideology are more important than anything in this blog. Period.
We’re just going to have to disagree on this point here I think. The Origenism condemned at the 5th council is not very reflective of what Origen actually wrote.
I address the matter a little in my post on universalism.
The verses by St. Paul in this article are only one aspect of the Bible, and patristic stance towards authority. We are not obliged to side with a worldview that spends millions influencing the church and theology towards process theology, gender fluidity, child surgeries, and entities of transhumanists trying to do a great reset or force heretical ecumenism while the LGBTQ agenda is pushed by radical priests and the EP, in exchange for US protection since the first World War, and the reason they also backed the Living Church in Russia.
Dyer may have issues but he is correct about this and the insidious influence of occultism, gnosticism, fabian socialism (that started with capitalism to include neoconservatism.) People in this world conspire and the works he bring up are scholarly, declassified, and serious books such as Quigley’s work Tragedy and Hope, The Milner-Fabian conspiracy (what it’s members itself called it), Wemhoff’s work on the infiltration of the Vatican for Americanism that backed both right wing dictators and liberation theology with color revolutions in the cold war and going into the philosophy and theology of hermeticism, masonry, revolutionaries, and schismatic heretics who have broken loose since the Renaissance and we can see their statues in broad daylight and rituals at the half time shows of our religion of sports and the grammy’s (the music America’s children listen to.)
And we should never have closed our churches. There should be no siding with this anti Christian prevailing world view, it will not be fixed by being nice and lukewarm about it (though we should pray for that to happen and for these people.)
These articles and lists 9 times out of ten are about dismissing people problematic to the religion becoming ecumenicist, progressive, finding a middle road politically as a false Royal Path, and are naive. These lists often extend to people like Fr Heers, Fr Trenham, every priest at patristic faith, Abbot Tryphon, and Fr Spyridon, as well as anything from St. Paisios, Fr Seraphim Rose, Elder Ephraim Athanasios, and St. John Maximovitch that would call out the antichrist spirit and typology of our times that we are limp wristedly aiding and abetting, any statements they have about the state takeover of charity, vaccines and chips in people, and their stances on ecumenism. It’s not just about Dyer’s demeanor.
If that was it they would say don’t listen to Dyer then still call these things out and not add those other priests to these lists, the way Fr Trenham doesn’t associate with him but addresses the world as an Orthodox priest.
Some of what you say in this article is true. We (especially new converts) should never substitute our parish communities and relationships with our spiritual fathers for online “Orthodoxy.” The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation. There are also things you say that clearly miss the mark. We are under no obligation as Orthodox Christians to be willingly misled (sometimes at great harm) by authorities. The entire Covid debacle is stark proof of this. We are also under no obligation to support a clergyman when he is in the wrong or is teaching something contrary to sound Orthodoxy. No amount of proof-texted Bible verses changes that.
Yes, some like Dyer take things too far and get too wound up with geopolitics and conspiracies. He still has plenty of good things to say, and I’d much rather be cautious and skeptical of what we are fed by rabidly anti-Christian authorities than accept what they say unquestioningly. This doesn’t mean we should revolt and overthrow the government. It simply means we shouldn’t be willingly led to damnation by them. By your logic we need to believe there are 300 genders and that same-sex marriage is a social good. After all, that’s what the authorities tell us, right?
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I do not think I have advocated following clergy in matters that betray the faith on account of earthly authorities. That would be the equivalent of rendering what is God’s unto Caesar instead.
If I might ask, what precisely has the OCA or any of the churches mentioned in this blog post done that betrayed the faith as it related to Covid? I realize that some of the measures during those days were unpopular and some were based on information that turned out to be incorrect, but I have failed to see how any of those measures went as far as proclaiming heresy or betraying the sacraments. Let me offer a point of comparison. My traditional Catholic friend could not received communion at any Latin Mass for some time due to the Catholic hierarchy’s rulings. A number of other Protestant churches also did likewise. I found this change scandalous to say the least. I am not aware of any Orthodox church acting similarly in the USA. If one thinks there needs to be accountability for the church hierarchy on past policy decisions, then I don’t begrudge it. What I found to be unpalatable at the time and still do is the even more radical position that the church had fallen into heresy. To put it simply, it struck me as a bridge too far.
Again, let me reiterate, I do not advocate changing the faith unto heresy on account of earthly authority. I will be revising the piece to make that more clear.
Thank you for your feedback and have a blessed Lent,
This bullshit article hasn’t aged well, has it? About as well as the phony pandemic hysteria and the now proven ineffective, and likely injurious, vaccines.
No Orthodox Christian is obliged to blindly submit to the authority of those who openly betray and pervert the faith, while sycophantically serving as instruments of the worst anti-Christian forces.
I would rather listen to Jay Dyer than a pompous, self-righteous, terminally stupid ass like yourself.
Phony pandemic hysteria? Sure a lot of it was exaggerated, especially in retrospect. But surely you remember that the original variant of Covid-19 was more deadly than those currently circulating? I do not find what the OCA hierarchy did to be a betrayal of the faith. Church services were still held, intinction was still done and communion was available to all who were eligible, and so on.
The only restrictions I recall were limitations on the number of people attending at one time if the services were held indoors, this kissing of icons, and the kissing of the priest’s hand. The latter two were adopted at a time when it was not well understood (publicly at least, which only goes to show the what was at the time to me a surprising incompetence of our public health officials in the USA) that it did not spread via contact. If I recall correctly, those portions were rescinded before the others.
As for the number limits, in general or in aggregate, lockdowns did not work. 2 weeks to slow the spread turned into months and in some states over a year. But that has more to do, in my view, with what was the general approach of all American politicians at the time. Every state locked down out of health concerns, no? GA only relaxed some retrictions in May 2020 and FL fully lifted them at the end of September 2020.
Most states at least had restrictions on religious services. Would you have had the bishops openly defy these at risk of potential violent confrontations with authorities? The only thing I would understand is conducting services still in a clandestine manner in the states that outright banned religious services entirely.
But again, that wasn’t the subject of this article. It was the subject of certain, as it related to the pandemic, letter from a parish priest concerned that some of his parishoners were stirring up trouble. They went on the internet and came back to church complaining about the free masons and zionists engineering the pandemic and that the church authorities were in their service, and accused them all of heresy. On what grounds, I might ask? Is icon kissing suddenly the equivalent of partaking in the Eucharist? No. I could go on. The bishops got it right in my view. These people were emotionally disturbed.
My church resumed indoor unrestricted services around summer 2021, but we held most of em outside without restrictions.
As for vaccines, I have never commented publicly about them up to now and it was not even a matter of this article. You are correct to note that we were lied to about their effecacy in stopping the spread of the disease, not only by the government but also by Pfizer et al. as well. You are also correct in noting that their effecacy wears off rather quickly and as I understand it, each booster is less and less effective and long lasting.
As for their alleged injurious nature, I can’t say much. In my view, if one is older or morbidly obese, they are probably better off getting the vaccine than risk getting the disease cold turkey so to speak. But those matters should be left to individual choices. The OCA never endorsed forced vaccinations btw.
There is a lot more I could say about the pandemic and the policies surrounding it, but that would take forever. In any case, most of what this article has said was not related to the pandemic.
As for Jay Dyer, you are free to listen to whomever. I am sure Dyer has made some excellent points here and there, and as a consequence has helped a lot of people. I’ve heard his atheism debates are good. I cannot speak to that.
There are plenty of people in the world to follow and pay attention to, but I only have so much time. Jay Dyer isn’t one of those. I cannot bring myself to follow a conspiracy theorist and whose commentators are often rather vitriolic. And I especially cannot bring myself to really trust a man who makes company with Alex Jones, an all around weirdo conspiracy theorist with a proclivity for cruelty towards those who had lost their young children to mass murder.
Have a good Lent,
I stumbled on this post after I googled “Craig Truglia” after watching some of his interviews and wanting to know some details on the guy. For openness, I’m trying to learn more about the Orthodoxy and I really don’t have a strong background in this stuff myself. Most of the high level stuff you guys are getting into goes over my head. So, I’m not going to try and speak to any of those topics of history, like who’s right or wrong, but just based on this post you made here I really don’t see anything the guy did wrong.
Your arguments mostly seem to boil down to “he disagreed with this priest,” which implies that you should never disagree with priests. Because if there are times you should disagree with them, then it’s not enough to just say “avoid this person because he’s disagreeing with these priests.” From what I see though, priests disagree with things all the time, especially on Coronavirus. I’m mentioning Coronavirus because that’s the big thing you were bringing up (that and Origen it seems, but I really don’t know anything about that person so I don’t want to say anything about that topic).
The Coronavirus is really causing these big divides, and everyone knows that priests, bishops, regular people, everyone is completely split on these these. It’s what you would expect since it’s such a big issue. So to say that he is rejecting the church’s authority as a whole because he’s rejecting some of its people on an issue like this really doesn’t hold up in my view. You can equally make the claim that he’s upholding the position of some various other clergymen, and that he’s really trying to guard the church authority from that perspective (not saying I believe this since I’m not in a position to judge these things, but based on your post’s reasoning it would be a valid argument.) It would be one thing if he’s going against a priest on something that’s obvious, like if he said a priest was wrong for saying he can’t have four wives based on some kind of twisting of the Bible (just trying to use a strong example) then I would get it. But on Coronavirus, the most controversial issue going on right now? I’m not seeing it. I hope what I’m saying is clear, in that I’m talking about what I’m seeing as a very one-sided view of things without thinking of the other side.
Also, another thing I want to bring up is that this seems like really making a mountain out of a molehill. You brought up the point that he questioned if a clergyman got the disease from church in particular, and made it out like he was some crazy person denying reality bringing up the movie “The Matrix.” I’m here thinking, “Craig makes a valid point.” Coronavirus transmission is a very hard thing to really pin down. By the time you show symptoms and get a positive diagnosis, a lot of time can pass. You can be in contact with a lot of different people, even if you don’t realize it, and finding out what in particular caused the spread can be almost impossible. A person could have coughed and the virus particles could have lingered in the air, and you can catch the disease even if you think you’re alone in a place, or something like that. The point is, asking if a person actually caught the virus at church versus some other place is an extremely valid question to ask. Maybe the church group is also part of another social group that had spread from something not church related. Contact tracing and figuring out how the virus spreads and where you can catch it from is a very complicated issue with many factors that go into it (it’s something I try to deal with in my own life, thankfully I haven’t gotten the disease.) Of course a person can be mistaken as to where he’s gotten sick from, especially if he’s not in a good state of mind because he got sick and is recovering or is mistaken/misremembering the facts of what happened. I’ve seen it happen, at least.
Anyway, I realize this is getting too long and I’m kind of losing the point and going on about Coronavirus too much. Sorry about that. The point is, you’re making these extremely strong accusations of him, saying he’s anti-intellectual, a hypocrite, and even committing blasphemy. I’m sure that you’re not in bad faith and probably genuinely see what he’s doing as being bad. But looking from the outside as somebody who had no clue that there were arguments between him and clergy (one of the interviews I saw from him was with a priest and it seemed friendly to me) I don’t see anything as beyond the pale here. I expect people to take sides in controversies like this, especially when it’s having a real impact on day to day life like the Pandemic has had for I think all of us. But going from seeing someone is taking positions against you and trying to firmly stand for them to calling them all of these things is being uncharitable. You posted that you had disagreements with him before (and I can’t comment to any of that) so maybe you have certain preconceived views, but from just what I can see and understand it’s not called for based on the evidence presented. Maybe his priest really did tell him to take a firm stand on kissing icons, I see no good-faith reason to disbelieve that when there seems to be real divides based on that. Again, I really don’t see the reason to take such a avoidant/hostile view as you are proposing I take based on the evidence you provided, and you haven’t convinced me to avoid any of his videos/interviews as a source of knowledge.
On a final note, I hope this post hasn’t come off as being hostile or mean spirited or anything. I tried to avoid saying things about you, especially negative things like that you’re prideful, projecting, or things like that you often see people throwing around in comments (because I don’t believe those things of you). Comments, especially long ones that aren’t in support, can often come off like that, I think in part it’s because through the internet you can only see a small snippet of what people type and things can get lost or misinterpreted through that. If you feel like what I’ve said is unfair or offensive or anything, I apologize in advance and blame that on myself not being that articulate. Again, I’m pretty new to this whole thing, hence why I ended up here from a google search.
All the best,
I don’t think your summary quite grasps what I took issue with vis-à-vis Truglia. Moreover, it misses the primary argument of this blog entry – that all apologists, including myself, ought to be avoided or held in contempt even, if need be, because we are too often unworthy of the mantle we claim, that is to witness Orthodoxy in any true sense. We are, to put it briefly, the worst.
Since you’ve raise Truglia’s case, I’ll reiterate and somewhat elaborate.
Regardless of how one feels about Covid and the related social policies, my point was that Truglia was taking a tack that ran against episcopal consensus or individual bishops in a number of jurisdictions not so much in a fashion that reflected a mere difference of opinion, but in a manner to the extent that he was willing to say that if someone got ill or died because of kissing icons, then it might truly be a blessing. That is primarily what I took issue with at that time, though I also thought he was wrong about what the tones of bishops have historically been (which is a point of secondary importance). Now much of the logistics of this matter are moot, since Covid is not spread by surface contact. But at the time, that was something still up in the air. As for his questioning of the Russian bishop, yes, you are correct, it is a valid question. But as I made clear above, the question was never asked in good faith. If you think he asked it in good faith, then you are free to do so.
As for the priest thing, again, it wasn’t the fact that he disagreed with any clergy members. If that were the case, then we’re all in his boat because clerics’ opinions differ vastly so it is impossible not to disagree with them on something. It was the manner of his disagreement – demanding an apology from a priest when none was warranted, publicly accusing a priest of being a liar on both his own blog and that said priest’s blog, and then on top of that addressing that same priest in what can probably be called a “cute” manner. All of those are hallmarks of grandstanding and of someone who is engaging in reputational rent-seeking in a zero-sum manner.
Perhaps one could say that this blog entry is also a form of grandstanding, though I think it would be an inaccurate characterization. I pay money out of pocket for this blog annually, host no advertisements, take no donations, have no patreon or patrons, and post so rarely that it clearly doesn’t serve as anything more than the occasional place for me to doodle and organize thoughts. And again, I put myself in the camp of those you shouldn’t listen to when it comes to living a true faith – or living at all for that matter. So that especially would discount me from that accusation, though I’ve been guilty certainly of other things. I know not what people say about me. I don’t keep up with drama-lama stuff on the internet enough to know these days what people say in what corners of comment sections, etc.
I’m hardly the only one who has developed this opinion of Truglia. His former colleagues at Reason & Theology podcast/YouTube channel have cut ties with him also, for reasons not unlike my own, as I understand it, though I am foggy on those details these days – much time has passed.
In any case, no offense is taken on my part. I will only reiterate though, regardless of whether you agree with my assessment of Truglia or not, it was never my primary point of this blog entry. The primary purpose of this blog entry was to get people to avoid online apologetics and apologists. I think reading books by Orthodox clerics and monks is the next best thing to actually going to an Orthodox church and talking to the people there. Again, the best thing is to actually interact in person with Orthodox clergy and laity. Online apologists are, again, the worst. If you must YouTube, then I’d recommend Protecting Veil YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/ProtectingVeil/about
That is all.
Hey, thanks for the quick reply. I’ll try to keep it brief since last time I went way long. I was talking about how the only evidence presented in the post was instances of him criticizing members of the clergy and him saying that some of them are or might be corrupt. I think that’s just normal in any situation where there’s a big disagreement like with the Pandemic. Especially last year, things were heated. If the big reasons presented to avoid someone were things like he linked to a Bon Jovi song in a debate/discussion or was criticizing a claim about someone getting Coronavirus from a particular place (that was the real weird one for me with the strong claims made), then that’s unconvincing. Again, I was basing this on what I read, which to me seemed very much oriented around the argument that he was criticizing clergy and therefore bad. Looking at just this, I’m just not seeing the bad faith or grandstanding. I obviously don’t know the guy, just like I don’t know you or the Youtube people you say he was with before or any of that, so I could be mistaken.
In general, you seem to have a really negative view of apologists that I’m not convinced on. If a person is making money on apologetics, then as long as he’s not deliberately twisting his message or doing anything bad because of it I don’t see the issue. The money argument would in theory have to be used against clergy, I would think. I don’t know too much about East Orthodox priests since I’m still trying to learn, but I know from experience that clergy themselves often make money. I’m Armenian (the name probably gave it away) and I can confirm that some of our priests where I’m at make a lot of money. I know I would never walk up to one and say “you drive a Mercedes Benz, your teachings are worth less and you are in bad faith” or something to that effect. It’s the teachings/arguments on their own merits that should matter. If you ran adverts or asked for donations, I wouldn’t think less of you or anyone for it. Not that I think it’d be productive or worthwhile for you or anyone in particular.
Anyway, I’ll keep it at that. And while I’m still probably going to check out peoples’ Youtube channels, I’ll probably be talking to some clergy soon anyway. I’m going on a business trip soon to somewhere that I’ve coincidentally always wanted to visit and explore the local area, and it turns out there’s a monastery near where I’d be going anyway. I’ll try to visit them and maybe try to figure some of this stuff out. Maybe a prayer book and some icons too.
Hey I just found out this blog post by chance. I listen to Dyer because he has good debates and knowledge about thing. I was converted before I saw any of his video so for me it’s just one source among many. In any cases I’m not here to defend but just to ask a question: what is their bishop doing? Dyer I know is supported by the hierarchy (or seems to), which, to me, gives him a role in the Church and it’s one of the reason I listen to him. But what about the Craig fellow? I never really heard of him and he does seem out of line (of course I only have your position but it’s pretty clear here): what is his bishop doing about it? At the end of the day, is he even in a Church? Is he participating in the life of the Church? Thanks
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He says he is supported by his priest. I don’t have a strong position on that claim. Generally, I think laymen should refrain from public criticism of the hierarchy. Private conversations is another matter.
Thanks for the quick reply. I agree with your position. If I had a strong problem with a clergy I’d probably take it personally or share it with my priest/bishop for a second position, as is suggested in the Scriptures.
“Avoid Jay Dyer” I can only say that, in my brief experience with his person, I agree wholeheartedly. I visited a Discord server owned by him, and to quote another of your posts, “there is nothing there that resembles charity or love. People are regularly spurned, slandered, and banned without provocation”. The group was dominated by 4chan humour, sarcasm, and pernicious bullying tactics, with the moderators being the guiltiest in this regard. Probably Dyer attracts this kind of people. I ended my membership almost immediately as I obtained it. Maybe the people there have some intellectual understanding of Christianity (I didn’t really see it), but they certainly were not living their faith.
I have grown over the years quite skeptical of apologists and bloggers of religion who take money. I understand there are costs in many cases that extend beyond web hosting, especially for the more active ones who interview guests, but I think the norm should be suspicion towards motives till one passes the muster of healthy scrutiny. As I said in my post, Dyer does not just strike me as wrong in spirit but also as a genuine grifter mixing truth with falsehood to gain money wherever it may be found.
It’s deeply instructive for me to compare JD’s aggressive, combative style to the ones of actual Orthodox priests I follow that do streams and answer questions. The latter are full of calm, peace, and what I can only describe as “grace” working through them, and say things that put you on the right path. In what I’ve seen of JD he’s the complete opposite. To my knowledge he’s also not trained in theology but media or marketing so I don’t know how much of an apologist he can be on theological issues. God, help him.
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I agree with the great difference in tone between say a typical priest and Dyer. As for training, I don’t have formal training in theology either, though Dyer’s training in media/marketing does make sense given his behaviors. At any rate, theology is just something I read a lot of, at least the early stuff. I imagine that there are a lot of things that one can learn from going to seminary and getting a degree in theology that one probably would not otherwise learn. And such would definitely improve their abilities in apologetics.
You are a heretic. The majority of the Holy Fathers works are apologetic.
No-one can be that ignorant. You are the deceiver!
Setting aside the rudeness of your comment, I clearly stated “online apologetics.” I have no qualms with apologetics in general. I just think the internet, as amazing as it can be, often yields poor forums for discussion. Not to mention the fact that I referenced a church father speaking directly about the pros and cons of apologetics itself in general (Tertullian) and he was more critical than I am with my limited critique of the internet’s versions. I hope that clarifies things.
Tertullian is not regarded as an Orthodox father. Your spurious arguments just prove that you’re a fake.
Thanks for clarifying that, though.
There is no official list of church fathers in Orthodoxy.
I should also point out that Sts. Cyprian of Carthage, Jerome, and Vincent of Lérins would disagree with your assessment that Tertullian was not a church father or a man worth reading and learning from. St. Cyprian held him as a master of learning. St. Jerome thought him worthy to include in his On Illustrious Men. Likewise, St. Vincent wrote praises of him too. Yet, both Jerome and Vincent acknowledged his flaws and subsequent fall into heresy.
The work I cited from Tertullian is from his Orthodox phase, before he fell into heresy. More recently, Hieromartyr Hilarion used the very same work of Tertullian in his own work:
Via the councils Tertullian is a patristic writer. Not a father, this is the consensus just as Origen is useful at times, but not a Saint and Blessed Augustine is a St. but we reject his theology.
*Edit by Alura*: Two things I would like to add here. First, I am closing comments to this blog post. I don’t really have the desire to rehash lama drama from the internet from nearly three years ago. Let the chips fall where they may. Second and in direct response to the above statement not in bold, the word “patristic” literally means “fatherly.” As such, your distinction between a Patristic writer and a Church Father makes no sense. If you wanted to say that Tertullian is not a church father, but a writer of the Patristic Period, that would make more sense, at least for Catholics, who typically regard the Patristic Period ending around the life of Sts. Bede and John of Damascus. But as in the case of Orthodoxy, we don’t believe the Patristic Period ever ended.
I don’t like drama all that much either (admittedly I like it more than I should) but as someone familiar with all three of the apologists you’ve brought up here, I have some additional information.
All in all, I recommend avoiding the sources you’ve put out. Dyer is actually quite a good representative of theism in debates against atheists, and a good representative of the Christian position in debates against non-Christians, like Muslims. However, he definitely has an aggressive overtone about him, and he certainly seems prideful and sensitive. I was blocked by him on Twitter, and still am, for reasons unknown to me. I was also on his Discord server for a while, because it’s the largest English-speaking Orthodox Discord server in the world, and I found some interesting stuff out there. Predominantly, Dyer tends to get pretty aggressive against people who disagree with him even on minor things. He’s extremely quick to call people prideful or in prelest for taking different approaches than him. Most prominently, he actually said that Craig Truglia was too prideful to listen to him. He also has supported people calling the “True” Orthodox in a state of prelest and pride, and (like Craig) he has gone after clergy who call him out by referring to them as modernists. Fr. Andrew Damick is a good example.
Meanwhile, the “True” Orthodox who I have talked to tend to believe Dyer is the one in a state of prelest and pride, and that he is a liar. Craig tends to be a bit more diplomatic, as you’ve seen, based on how he consults with the schismatic clergy on his website. But, even then, the divisions between Dyer, Craig, and the “True” Orthodox is still very high. They all believe that they are the TRUE expression of Orthodoxy, all while ignoring the arguments and scholarship being put forward by the actual Orthodox Church and its clergy in the modern age as modernists, ecumenists, and compromisers in the faith… when that’s not true at all. In fact, all three of them likely believe me to be in a state of prelest, having considered their positions and left them for a standard Orthodox position, the one shared with and sympathized towards by plenty of great clergymen and synods, including the OCA, Moscow Patriarchate, the Antiochian Church, the Greek Orthodox, and even certain voices in ROCOR. The point being, all three of these apologists are clearly out of the norm and a rule unto themselves.
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I will genuinely be a bit surprised if Craig is still a Christian at all in 10 years. He’s in a bit of a bubble in a largely non-Christian land now; otherwise I’d give him 5 years.