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July 6, 2023

Christ and Humanistic Society (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

 By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery of the Holy Mountain

As much as a man is cleansed of his passions, so he acquires the possibility of true communion with God and other human beings.

Those who view man romantically and externally transfer the evil from individuals to society, which is why they preach that the improvement of society will also bring about the improvement of individuals. But the Orthodox, without denying the importance of social influence on persons, give priority to the transformation of the person through repentance and Divine Grace.

It is a great delusion to want to change society without struggling to change ourselves. It is at least naïve to believe that changing some social institutions will bring about change in people without repentance.

Sick people make sick societies and sick societies make people sicker. To cure social ills without curing personal ills is a shifting of the problem, a refusal to accept our personal responsibility, an evasion of repentance, an affirmation of our selfishness, an unwillingness to see our true selves. It is worth considering that the Lord made personal repentance a condition for participation in His Kingdom.

Nor must the work of the devil be overlooked in the dissolution of persons and societies, and in the prevalence of evil. Humanistic simplifications of social problems denies the existence of the devil. On the contrary, in the Gospels and in the Christian experience, the extent of diabolical energies in persons and social situations is revealed, as well as the need to fight against the devil, to ward off and exorcise evil spirits. The task of charismatic consecrated monastics and lay people is to discern spirits, so that the Christian does not fall into the traps set by the wicked one, when he appears in the guise of good.

We have emphasized the strength of the opposing anti-eucharistic and anti-social forces not to show the impossibility of overcoming them, but the need for them to be taken into account by the struggling Christian. Christ defeated these powers and the Christian can, with the power of Christ and the cooperation of Divine Grace, participate in this victory of Christ.

* * *

At this point, the Christian social struggle is radically different from any other struggle. The society that humanistic systems (idealistic and materialistic) want to create is anthropocentric. Christian society is Theoanthropocentric. But the means of the humanists are also anthropic. For the Christian they are Theanthropic. Humility is at the basis of Christian society. While the basis of humanistic society is pride, self-sufficiency, and shutting out God. It is about the repetition of the same sin of Adam: the pursuit of deification without God.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that both of these humanistic systems with their applications in the economy (capitalism and communism) were born in the heretical west, which was preceded by the religious anthropocentrism of the "infallible" Pope and the Filioque. Let the Orthodox or ex-Orthodox think about this matter who blatantly deny our Orthodox tradition, usually out of ignorance, in order to cling to Western systems.

The only human character of non-Christian society is that takes away from it the possibility of giving peace to the soul of man, because it leaves him irreconcilable with his Heavenly Father, and therefore homeless. Let us remember the words of Saint Augustine, which expresses anthropological experience: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."

Atheistic social systems help to solve some social and economic problems, but not to truly and essentially meet God and man. They do not satisfactorily answer our existential questions and especially the central problem of death. The world is being settled nicely to die. Although these systems, and especially Marxism, are characterized by an intense worldly messianism, in reality we do not "pass from death to life," and therefore they create tragic people, without hope. In fact, intense humanitarian or even business activity is sometimes the result of the effort to forget our basic problem, the problem of death, and to free ourselves from the anxiety, emptiness and boredom that marks life separated from its source, the Triune God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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