God’s Killings in the Bible Part II – 8 Acts of Murder in the Book of Joshua

NOTE: In the Old Testament alone, there are over 132 incidences of God murdering or ordering murders. According to the Orthodox Church Fathers, in the Old Testament it is the Logos—the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity before His Incarnation—who is making appearances and acting: “God the Father acts through the Son in the Holy Spirit.” In the Book of Joshua, 8 separate incidents are recorded where God either kills or orders His people to kill others. The following biblical verses are taken from the King James Version:


The Jericho genocide, Joshua 6:21. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

Achan and his family are stoned and burned to death Joshua, 7:19-26. And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.

Achan stoned to death, Maciejowski Bible, 13th c.
Achan stoned to death, Maciejowski Bible, 13th c.

The Ai massacre, Joshua 8:1-31. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it. So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night. And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready: And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you. Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people. And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai. And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley. And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city. And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city. And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city. And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire. And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers. And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai. And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape. And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua. And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword. And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai. For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua. And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap forever, even a desolation unto this day. And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day. Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

God stops the sun so Joshua can kill in the daylight, Joshua 10:10-11. And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

John Martin's 1816 oil painting Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still Upon Gibeon
John Martin’s 1816 oil painting Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still Upon Gibeon

Five kings killed and hung on trees, Joshua 10:24-26. And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.


Joshua utterly destroys all that breathes as God commanded, Joshua 10:28-42. And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho. Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah: And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho. And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it: And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah. Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining. And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it: And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish. And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it: And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it: And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king. So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.


Jabin, Jobab, and all the people in 20 cities, Joshua 11:6-20. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire. And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms. And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire. And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn. And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe. As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses. So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

The Anakim: More giant killing, Joshua 11:21-22. And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.

Jesus of navi, Hossios Loucas, 10th c..
Jesus of navi, Hossios Loucas, 10th c..

Elder Ephraim: Athonite Missionary to America (Jesse Dominick, 2010)

NOTE: This is a paper written for Dr. David Ford’s American Orthodoxy class at St. Tikhon’s Theological Seminary.

Jesse Dominick
Jesse Dominick

In American Orthodoxy, rife with controversy as it is, one of the most controversial characters is Elder Ephraim, former abbot of Philotheou Monastery, who currently lives at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, AZ.  The mere mention of his name evokes strong emotions – people either love or revile him. It is not uncommon to hear him referred to as the holiest man alive, or conversely as a fanatical cult-leading guru. Either way, his establishment of seventeen monasteries in North America in a decade is certainly an impressive feat. It is said that the state of monasticism in a local Church is a microcosm of the state of that entire local Church, and thus America is undoubtedly in need of strong monasteries that can provide clear, Patristic guidance. Elder Ephraim came to America in response to the pleas of the faithful to provide this guidance, but in doing so many questions have been raised concerning the nature of Orthodox monasticism and teachings. To assess his role and importance for American Orthodoxy it is helpful to investigate his life and spiritual development, which will provide insight into him whom Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos says “’received fire,’ and . . . has imparted this fire . . . to the Church in America that has great need of it.”[1]

St. Anthony's Monastery
St. Anthony’s Monastery

Elder Ephraim was born to a poor family in Volos, Greece in 1927, receiving the name John at baptism. He worked hard with his father to support the family[2], but was more inspired by the pious example of his “philomonastic mother” who later became the nun Theophano “of blessed memory.”[3] He quit school during the first years of the German Occupation to work, and it is then, around the age of fourteen, that his own yearning for monasticism began to blossom when a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast came from the Holy Mountain to serve in an Old Calendar parish in Volos. This hieromonk soon became John’s (Ephraim’s) spiritual father and related many stories of Mount Athos, and especially of Elder Joseph, at which John would “burn with the ardent desire for the day [he] would meet him.”[4] He received a blessing five years later from his spiritual father to pursue monasticism, and in the meantime he “gave alms as much as [he] could, even though [he] was poor, so that God would help [him] achieve [his] goal.”[5]

Geronda Ephraim's mother, Sister Theophano.
Geronda Ephraim’s mother, Sister Theophano.

On September 26, 1947 John boarded a boat to the dock of St. Anne’s on the Holy Mountain where he was met by Geronda Arsenios who announced that “The Honorable Forerunner appeared to Elder Joseph last night and said to him, ‘I am bringing you a little lamb. Put it in your sheepfold.’” While such news would lead to pride in most people, Elder Ephraim humbly writes that he was simply grateful for this care of St. John towards him. The rest of John’s life was mapped out that night in a small chapel of St. John the Baptist where he did a metanoia of obedience to Elder Joseph the Hesychast from whose side he would learn for the next twelve years until the venerable Elder’s repose in 1959.[6] John was tonsured as a monastic with the name Ephraim nine months later, and under obedience was soon ordained to the diaconate and subsequently the priesthood.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast with two of his disciples: Elder Haralambos (left) and Elder Ephraim (right)
Elder Joseph the Hesychast with two of his disciples: Elder Haralambos (left) and Elder Ephraim (right)

Of Elder Joseph, Elder Ephraim writes, “It was impossible for a person to come and stay with him and not be cured of his passions . . . as long as he was obedient to him,”[7] and it was in this atmosphere that he struggled for twelve years. Although Elder Ephraim does not write it of himself, as can be seen in his own writings, he himself is one who overcame his own passions by the guidance of Elder Joseph. As he describes it, his spiritual regimen included practice of Christ-like obedience, fasting, all-night vigils, extensive practice of the Jesus Prayer, silence, and endurance of verbal abuse.[8] While Elder Joseph allowed a little laxity concerning fasting, he was quite strict in every other aspect – for speaking two or three words on a trip Elder Ephraim received a first penance of 200 prostrations, and he relates to Constantine Cavarnos that six or seven continuous hours of the Jesus Prayer replaced Matins, and in the afternoon it also replaced Compline.[9]

Constantine Cavarnos spent his final 3 years at St. Anthony's where he died as a schema monk (March 3, 2011).
Constantine Cavarnos spent his final 3 years at St. Anthony’s where he died as a schema monk (March 3, 2011).

Elder Ephraim’s spiritual state and popularity seem to have grown rapidly.  There was much talk of him at least in Athens while his own Elder was still alive, as Cavarnos reports, and Elder Joseph would even send people to see his disciple for spiritual nourishment.[10] After Elder Joseph’s repose, Elder Ephraim became the head of a group of eight young monks, which grew to forty in less than a decade. In need of more space, he moved with twenty disciples to the abandoned Russian kelli of St. Artemios at Provata, a dependency of the Great Lavra.[11] In 1973, he was petitioned by the Council of the Holy Mountain to move his brotherhood to Philotheou monastery where he became abbot and quickly revived the spiritual life. Seeing his spiritual discernment and success, the Council also asked him to repopulate the Xeropotamou, Konstamonitou, and Karakallou monasteries. He was also asked to repopulate the Great Lavra, but declined.[12] He remains the spiritual guide of these Athonite monasteries, as well as eight women’s communities throughout Greece.[13] In 1979 he made a brief trip to North America where he met many Orthodox Christians who were hungry for spiritual counsels, and flooded him with pleas to return, and so he began to make annual trips to guide his growing flock here. Due to these extended absences, he resigned as abbot of Philotheou in 1990 and moved to America where he quickly founded seventeen thriving monasteries by the invitation of the local Greek Orthodox hierarchs and the fervent pleas of the faithful.[14] Today he labors as the spiritual father of thousands around the globe at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, AZ which was founded by six Athonite monks in 1995.

Geronda Ephraim and synodia, Provata, 1970
Geronda Ephraim and synodia, Provata, 1970

With this brief biographical information, it seems Elder Ephraim’s life could be straight out of the Synaxarion. The success of his communities and the Patristic ethos of his writings show him to be a well-rounded master of the spiritual life in our time. Of his words in Counsels From the Holy Mountain, Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos writes that they are “an outcome and a fruit of obedience and noetic hesychia, a result of divine ascents, and they are certainly words coming from a paternal heart, words that help a person be healed in the atmosphere of spiritual love . . . His words arouse the heart to prayer, precisely because they proceed from prayer.”[15] Constantine Cavarnos asks, “What accounts for Ephraim’s extraordinary success in attracting so many men[16] to monasticism, at a time when there are numerous anti-monastic forces operating in the world?” and he answers, “It is, above all, his purity and holiness. And this he owes in large measure to his elder Joseph.”[17] If these accolades be trusted, Elder Ephraim has innumerable gifts to offer to American Orthodoxy. To Americans, obsessed with monetary success and “intellectual” pursuits, he offers the true theology of a purified intellect – “not gained in universities, but rather by despising the world and by living in a quiet and peaceful place far from the world’s noise and turmoil, with a program of prayer and ascesis.”[18] He offers immense faith – faith “that has taken him, a frail, elderly little provincial, to sophisticated, postmodern North America, there to perform mighty works for the Lord he loves so much.”[19]

CC Anchored

America’s generally Protestant inheritance has given us a severely weakened and increasingly secularized church experience. Those who profess faith in Christ are often driven by material and sensual desires and in no way stand apart from the popular culture. Faith is pushed further and further into the closet, and our proud tradition of “rugged individualism” has made us blind to the virtue of obedience. We are constantly on the move, uncomfortable with any down time or silence. These factors have led to a nation that is morally and psychologically sick. Elder Ephraim offers us an experience that is wholly other from American culture. He brings the unquenchable fountain of Athonite spiritual wisdom which is so vital for the life of the Church. As seen, his faith is anything but material, sensual, or secularized, and far from the closet, his faith is his life. Where we value innovation, Elder Ephraim calls us to enter the unchanging stream of Tradition. Where we fill our lives with noise, Elder Ephraim calls us to silent devotion to the name of Jesus. Where we are sick, he calls us to purity and healing. What Elder Ephraim offers to America now is exactly what he offered to Mount Athos fifty years ago. Of a conversation with the elder in 1965, Constantine Cavarnos writes, that he especially stressed the “need of a spiritual guide, and the value of praying mentally and heeding one’s conscience.”[20] This is precisely the “fire” of which Metropolitan Hierotheos writes, and Elder Ephraim has come to spread such zeal to America.

CC the Holy Mountain

To attain to such spiritual heights is a struggle against one’s fallen will and the fallen world. Without the luxury of a detailed biography it is hard to determine what specific weaknesses Elder Ephraim has overcome on his path to sanctity, but, as aforementioned, he does state that he received penances from his elder, and “in those twelve years that I lived with [Elder Joseph], rarely did I hear him call me by name. To call me or address me, he used all kinds of insults and appropriate adjectives.”[21] Thus he assures the reader that he had to struggle to align his will with God’s. The strictness of his life on Mount Athos could be endured only by unceasingly seeking the grace of God, and his spiritual warfare has surely reaped great reward. His most obvious “weakness” in the American context is his ignorance of the English language. Thousands flock to St. Anthony’s Monastery, but those who do not speak Greek can have but limited conversation with him. As the success of his monasteries attests, this has not prevented him from nourishing Orthodoxy in America, but he could perhaps have an even greater impact if he were able to speak in-depth with more seekers.

Interior of Prophet Elias Chapel.
Interior of Prophet Elias Chapel.

Beyond the issue of language, concerns have been raised about Elder Ephraim and his monasteries among some of the faithful, causing many to be wary of his counsels and of anyone associated with him. The internet is filled with accusations that he is anti-Semitic, anti-marriage, anti-parish, a cultish guru (expecting unhealthy obedience from his disciples), and a Gnostic (he teaches the aerial toll-houses). The websites “Pseudo-Prophet”[22] and “Greek Orthodox Monasteries Founded by Elder Ephraim”[23] both contain several pages that lay these and other accusations against him. There is even the Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform, which has as its mission statement:

We Greek Orthodox Christians of the Metropolis of Chicago will no longer accept the conditions that have spread and caused irreparable harm to our Faith. We are of the opinion that our current Hierarchs of the Metropolis of Chicago are complicit in allowing a cancerous cult to permeate the theology of our church. Therefore, we will focus the efforts and attention of our members to expose inappropriate teachings, practices and customs as they concern our Faith.[24]

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Its website also features articles entitled “What is an ‘Ephraimite’?” and “Learn to Speak ‘Ephraimitese’.” Most alarming is the link entitled “Report Ephraimite Activity” in which the organization encourages the faithful to provide: ” Names of any Greek Orthodox Priest who has presided over or participated in any sacrament at a monastery,” “Dates and Places of fundraising events held for the monasteries,” “Names and ages of monks, nuns or priests located at the monastery and ages when they entered the monasteries’” “Circumstances of spiritual abuse during confession,” and “Facts of excessive punishments attributed during confession,” among other things. Such alarming tactics are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes and serve only to illegitimize any valid concerns the group may have.

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There is also concern about the source of funds for his monasteries. Orthodox theologian Bradley Nassif states, “If you look at a person like Billy Graham, where his reputation is sterling, there’s full, open and public disclosure of his funds and we should expect no less from the Orthodox church . . . I would encourage the bishop to be the bishop, stand up for the gospel, at all costs, and, if necessary, if they refuse to follow the gospel, they should do their duty and excommunicate them.”[25] With all these charges laid against him, the typical response would be for Elder Ephraim to speak out in his own defense, or even to malign those who malign him, but even in the midst of such controversy, Elder Ephraim has a lesson for us. In a newscast for Fox News KVOA TV 4 in Tucson which aired on February 9, 2006, reporter Kristi Tedesco asks, “Why can’t Father Ephraim speak on his own behalf?” and Fr. Anthony of the Greek parish in Tucson answers, “Because he is Father Ephraim. He’s not going to play those games, that people, they like to play.”[26] Just as Christ silently accepted the shame of the hatred of His own people, and finally of the Cross, so Elder Ephraim silently and humbly accepts the shame of such accusations, thus putting Himself in the path of Christ. Avoiding talk of scandals is certainly a timely lesson for American Orthodox who are daily fed on the mudslinging of ocanews.org![27] While it is possible that there are legitimate concerns about the actions of someone, somewhere affiliated with Elder Ephraim, they are unfortunately overshadowed by the obviously uninformed and biased accusations that abound, and most importantly, by the Elder’s evident sanctity[28] and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.

Geronda Ephraim and Fr. Anthony Moschonas Sitting and Chatting
Geronda Ephraim and Fr. Anthony Moschonas Sitting and Chatting

Elder Ephraim offers an imperative message to the Church in America – the pure, unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ as preserved in the Orthodox Church, and especially in the spiritual deserts of Mount Athos. He reveals a life beyond “Vaticanized ecclesiology, academic and intellectualistic theology, Protestantizing sociology and ethicology, spiritually void and deluded meditation, atheistic social activism, etc,”[29] a life of joy that leads to eternal blessedness:

Theosis in the heavens, my child! There the Lord our God will remove every tear from our eyes, and do away with all sorrow and pain and sighing, for there the angelic way of life reigns, and the only work is to chant hymns and spiritual odes! An eternal Sabbath is prepared for us where we shall live in joy with our Father, God, Who is waiting for us to be ready so that He may call us to Him forever! There every saved soul will live in an ocean of love, sweetness, joy, amazement, and wonder![30]

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He offers us a message of hope, but also of urgency as we journey through these latter times. He further teaches us by word and example how to be ready for the call of the Father—through obedience to an experienced spiritual guide, hesychia, and maintaining a pure conscience, as he emphasized to Constantine Cavarnos forty-five years ago. Elder Ephraim is a missionary to the American people, calling us away from our ailing culture and ever further into the saving enclosure of the Orthodox Church.  Elder Ephraim has “received fire.” Elder Ephraim is a spiritual fire. By the grace of God may America too catch a fire.

Schema Monk Constantine Cavarnos' funeral procession at St. Anthony's Monastery
Schema Monk Constantine Cavarnos’ funeral procession at St. Anthony’s Monastery

Works Cited

Archimandrite Ephraim. “Preface.” Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1998.

Cavarnos, Constantine. Anchored in God: Life, Art, and Thought on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Athens: Astir Publishing Company, 1959.

—. The Holy Mountain. Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1973 (reprinted 2001).

Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999.

“Ephraim of Philotheou.” Orthodoxwiki. Orthodox Internet Services. 24 June 2009. Web. 24 April 2010. <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ephraim_of_Philotheou&gt;.

Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. 24 April 2010. <http://gotruthreform.org/&gt;.

Lillie, W. J. Rev. of Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim, by Elder Ephraim. Friends of Mount Athos Book Reviews, 1999. Bates College. 25 April 2010. <http://abacus.bates.edu/~rallison/friends/books/1999reviews/counsels_lillie1999.htm&gt;

Pseudo-Propet. 23 April 2010. <http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/&gt;. Ross, Rick. Greek Orthodox Monasteries Founded by Father Ephraim. 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/groups/ephraim.html&gt;.

—. Mystery Monastery (Part two). 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/reference/ephraim/ephraim14.html>.

“St. Anthony’s Monastery: Monastery Mystery Part 1.” 14 February 2009. You Tube. Web. 23 April 2010.

“St. Anthony’s Monastery: Monastery Mystery Part 2.” 14 February 2009. You Tube. Web. 23 April 2010.

Vlachos, Metropolitan Hierotheos. “Prologue.” Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999.

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[1] Vlachos, Metropolitan Hierotheos. “Prologue.” Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999. xv.

[2] Lillie, W. J. Rev. of Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim, by Elder Ephraim. Friends of Mount Athos Book Reviews, 1999. Bates College. 25 April 2010. <http://abacus.bates.edu/~rallison/friends/books/1999reviews/counsels_lillie1999.htm&gt;

[3] Archimandrite Ephraim. “Preface.” Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1998. 19.

[4] Ibid., 19

[5] Elder Ephraim. Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim. Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 1999. 88.

[6] Archimandrite Ephraim, “Preface.” 19-20.

[7] Ibid., 20

[8] Ibid., 20-24

[9] Cavarnos, Constantine. Anchored in God: Life, Art, and Thought on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Athens: Astir Publishing Company, 1959. 206-207.

[10] Ibid., 204, 206

[11] Cavarnos, Constantine. The Holy Mountain. Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1973 (reprinted 2001).72, 125

[12] Lillie, W. J.

[13] Including the monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Serres, that of Panagia the Directress in Portaria (Volos), and that of the Archangel Michael, a formal metochion of Philotheou on the island of Thasos.

“Ephraim of Philotheou.” Orthodoxwiki. Orthodox Internet Services. 24 June 2009. Web. 24 April 2010. <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ephraim_of_Philotheou&gt;.

 AZ 6

[14] Lillie, W. J.

[15] Vlachos, “Prologue.” Xiv.

[16] and women!

[17] Cavarnos, The Holy Mountain. 125. Cavarnos continues: “For, as St. Gregory of Nyssa remarks (OnVirginity chapter 24), “the saintliness of a life is transmitted from him who has achieved it to those who come within his circle; for there is truth in the Prophet’s saying, that one who lives with a man who is holy and clean and elect will become such himself.’”

[18] Elder Ephraim. Counsels. 79.

[19] Lillie, W. J.

[20] Cavarnos. Anchored in God. 207-208

[21] Archimandrite Ephraim. “Preface.” 24. Emphasis added. He continues, “But the driving force behind all that masterful verbal abuse and insult was true paternal affection and a sincere interest in the cleansing of my soul. How grateful my soul is now for that paternal affection!

[22] Pseudo-Propet. 23 April 2010. <http://pseudo-prophet.tripod.com/&gt;.

[23] Ross, Rick. Greek Orthodox Monasteries Founded by Father Ephraim. 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/groups/ephraim.html&gt;.

[24] Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform. 24 April 2010. <http://gotruthreform.org/&gt;.

[25] Ross, Rick. Mystery Monastery (Part two). 1999-2008. 24 April 2010. <http://www.rickross.com/reference/ ephraim/ephraim14.html>.

[26] The newscast can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UoQmFOa6QI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-hLSXaf40U&feature=related .  The newscast features three sets of parents who are upset that their sons have joined St. Anthony’s Monastery, but it is rather obvious from their comments that they are woefully ignorant of Orthodox monasticism.

[27] I am not suggesting that scandalous actions continue to be overlooked, but that we should not relish in reporting and reading all the latest gossip.

[28] Stories of his miracles and holiness also abound, including by one St. Tikhon’s novice who previously lived at St. Anthony’s Monastery.

[29] Vlachos,”Prologue.” xv.

[30] Elder Ephraim. Counsels. 2.


Schema Monk Constantine Cavranos
Schema Monk Constantine Cavranos


In Response To Slander Of Elder Ephraim (Rostislav Mikhailovich Malleev-Pokrovsky, 2005)

Those of you who monitor the Indiana List may have noticed this link in discussion of Elder Ephraim and the Monastery of St. Antony in AZ:


While I am by no means an “ephraimite,” ie one who follows the Elder blindly and worships him as a living saint, a major part of my Orthodox formation was received at St. Antony’s and was thoroughly patristic and not tainted at all by the conspiracy theories and baiting that this fellow has brought up.

[NOTE: Rotislav showed up in the late 90’s and helped the outside Fathers plant palm trees].


  I would begin by saying that Mr. Smith has devoted his life to the study of Scripture and has made his decisions based on how he has understood it, some good, some bad. His approach has been diverse, based on RC bible study, friendships and contacts with Orthodox Jews and Rabbis, and a diverse association with Orthodox of all stripes. This is something for which he should be commended.

David (Nephon) Smith
David (Nephon) Smith

Now, I was there at St. Antony’s during the period in question and am well aware of Mr. Smith’s situation, as he was a friend of mine and a confidant. To begin with, Fr. Paisios told Mr. Smith to refrain from sexual relations after his CIVIL MARRIAGE at the Mesa Wedding Chapel UNTIL he was married in the Church. Fr. Paisios does not dissuade sex in marriage in regard to procreation, and his point of view mirrors that of St. Maximos the Confessor, the Kollyvades Fathers, and the best thought of Patristic Scholars of our day.

[NOTE: Under no circumstances does a Geronda give a blessing for any carnal unions that are not blessed through marriage in a canonical Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the rules and canons of the church forbid carnal unions before receiving Holy Communion and on fast days, thus Orthodox couples generally refrain from carnal unions during a large portion of the year (2x 40-day Lents, the Dormition Fast, Wednesdays and Fridays, etc.) Though it varies from Geronda to Geronda, and of course on the disposition of the spiritual child confessing, when a couple passes the child-rearing phase of their relationship, they are given the suggestion or advice that it might be better to cease having carnal relations. Of course, the general advice and suggestions of a spiritual father are essentially an obedience]

The Kollyvades Fathers of Mount Athos
The Kollyvades Fathers of Mount Athos

I never witnessed not one baptism at St. Antony’s. [NOTE: The baptisms at that time were done in secret, the church was locked, only the priest, the ecclesiastiko, godparent and person baptised were present. There was always a haste to empty the font afterwards and clean up the church so as not to raise suspicion. Hieromonk Gabriel and Father Hieronymos were two of the ekklesiastikoi at that time period. Because adult baptisms at the monasteries were forbidden by the Hierarchy during that time period—and priests were essentially at risk of being defrocked if caught—then it’s obvious that it wasn’t something for public spectacle. This problem was solved later on when a spiritual child of Geronda Paisios offered the creek on his property to be used for baptisms. In rare cases, one may be sent to Mount Athos to be baptized, in other cases, Mt. Athos is just a cover story to direct attention away from the monastery].

David Smith & Geronda Paisios
David Smith & Geronda Paisios

Mr. Smith kept on requesting to have his rule increased, not decreased. He frequently did things without the “blessings” he says he needed to obtain, such as getting married outside of the Church, quitting his job because he didn’t feel like working anymore and forcing his wife to do so, moving in with his mother in law, abandoning his apartment, abandoning his vocational training in carpentry and tile laying on the verge of making a career for himself, etc. These were all decisions Mr. Smith made AGAINST Elder Paisios’ advice and were quite the product of his own self-will. When his finances collapsed and his living situation worsened, HE SPECIFICALLY requested the aid of the monastery in Florence for himself and his wife, where they could “get things together living as BROTHER AND SISTER and UNTONSURED MONASTICS IN SEPARATE QUARTERS.” That didn’t seem to satisfy him, and he decided to move himself and his wife to FL to “avoid having his Nissan Pick Up repossessed, so that he could get some help from social services without having to work, and enjoy an occasional toke of marijuana.” Thereafter Mr. Smith disappeared.

[NOTE: As is the case with many a lay people that don’t follow the advice of their spiritual father—i.e. do blind obedience to everything he suggests or advises—when things start going wrong in their life it becomes a cautionary tale that can be used in homilies for other lay people, and in some cases, the monks. As it says in the Ladder: “It is possible to belittle those living in the world out of conceit; and it is also possible to disparage them behind their backs in order to avoid despair and to obtain hope.” The cautionary tales of lay peoples’ misfortunes and miseries are used as a tool to incite monastics to be more grateful that they are in a monastery and not in the world].

Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Paisios
Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Paisios

I worked planting trees at the monastery during the period in question. I worked almost daily with Elder Ephraim and had hours of contact with him. Fr. Paisios was at one time a spiritual director for me. What I was told to read by Elder Ephraim was St. John Cassian.

[NOTE: Elder Ephraim was outside with the tree fathers a lot and gave directions on where things would be planted. He even handed out Snowballs and other treats to the outside fathers; though this caused a conflict of conscience with some of the fathers as Geronda Paisios had forbidden his monks sugar and other sweets. This would also happen when Geronda Joseph—NY Abbot—would bring a cooler of Haagen Daaz bars for all the monks when Geronda Ephraim would give a talk in the Gerontikon].

Geronda Joseph, NY would bring a cooler of Haagen Daaz bars for all the monks when Geronda Ephraim would give a talk in the Gerontikon
Geronda Joseph, NY would bring a cooler of Haagen Daaz bars for all the monks when Geronda Ephraim would give a talk in the Gerontikon

He never spoke of “conspiracies”: his talks were wrote memory recitations on prayer, perseverence, love straight out of a Gerontikon. Yes, he did advise obedience, but he was quick to understand human failings and provide a word of love. His writings clearly reflect that, and what Mr. Smith has decontextualized is a travesty, for he is indicting Elder Ephraim for paraphrasing such luminaries as Pakhomios, St. John Klimakos, Abba Dorotheos, et al.

[NOTE: Elder Ephraim doesn’t really elaborate on conspiracies as he doesn’t spend a lot of time reading that kind of information. In the early days (70’s, etc.), those kind of books were quite common in Greece (i.e. Protocols, Zionism, Jewish conspiracy for world domination, Freemasonry, Antichrist, etc.). Almost the entire Holy Mountain has this mindset; it’s intertwined with their orthodox world-view.]

Geronda Ephraim (2003)

Moreover, I NEVER, NOT ONCE, saw Mr. Smith pick up a shovel to help planting a tree.

[NOTE: This was the common monastic insult for those monks and lay people who were lazy and tried to avoid planting trees. Some Sundays, even though it was a day of rest for the fathers, Elder Ephraim would come knocking on the fathers’ doors to plant trees and they asked lay people. Lay people don’t always want to help with the workload, though. Some monks and novices also tried to avoid this work by feigning illness. At that time, it became a standard for the monks that if they did not have a fever, they were ok and capable to work].

He NEVER had contact with the Elder. All of his “knowledge” of the Elder is SECOND HAND and STYLIZED.

[NOTE: Most knowledge of Elder Ephraim is second hand. Those who get a true glimpse of Elder Ephraim, are those he feels safe enough around to be himself and unwind—i.e. those who don’t scandalize easily and those who he allows to get somewhat close. This is usually his cell attendants, his monastic personal drivers, and some of the Gerondas and Gerondissas who are under him. Again, he also fragments the information he disseminates. Thus, he may say something to a Gerondissa. She may or may not share that with her nuns, or maybe just a couple. In turn she may share it with other monastics under Geronda Ephraim, or she may tell her nuns to keep it to themselves. If Elder Ephraim tells her not to mention what he said to anyone, it will remain with her to the grave, unless he says “until after I die.”].


Fr. Paisios never spoke politically with me.

[NOTE: Again, Rotislav is a lay person. Only monks really get to see Geronda Paisios shine when explaining how the Rothschilds seized the world economy, what the Masons or Zionists are doing, how chem-trails affect the monasteries, etc.  Amongst monks, Geronda Paisios is known “to have tomorrow’s news today.” During this time period, Geronda Paisios had a short wave radio and would listen to various conspiracy rants. He would reiterate the information in casual talks among the fathers in the kitchenette of the monks’ quarters (lay people were not allowed in this section). At that time, there were cassette holders in the hallways of the monks’ quarters. The amount of “conspiracy theory” homilies in Greek—especially those involving the Antichrist or Book of Revelations—are countless. As well, many times Geronda Paisios may bring DVDs with various conspiracy/political information to the monasteries he visits and will give it to the Abbot/Abbess. Then, it’s up to the head if they allow their monastics to view it, or if they choose to reiterate the information on it. Once again, random lay people are not privy to these things].

Most of the Abbots and Abbesses with some of the monks and nuns from various monasteries outside the katholikon of St. Anthony's Monastery.
Most of the Abbots and Abbesses with some of the monks and nuns from various monasteries outside the katholikon of St. Anthony’s Monastery.

He advised reading of the Philokalia, especially St. Hesykhios the Presbyter. The rule he customarily gives I received 3 ropes, not necessarily 300 knot–my rope was 150, to our Lord and one to the Panaghia. He adjusted prostrations accordingly and was flexible as far as the rule was concerned in regard to Holy Communion. Fr. Paisios was LENIENT in regard to attendance of church services and undrstood our human failings, eg allowing me to get to Matins by the Gospel, take rests during an Agripnia, etc. Nephon RECEIVED SUCH DISPENSATIONS. And this is TYPICAL OF FR PAISIOS’ METHODOLOGY. The commentary about the services and their length is quite interesting, as established Orthodox monasteries from Valaam to Trinity-St. Sergius to the Holy Mountain to St. Katherine’s to St. Savas to Jordanville, etc. FOLLOW THE SAME AND/OR SIMILAR order.

[NOTE: There is no catch all methodology for a spiritual father when dealing with lay people. There are common factors, and specific canons that have to be adhered to, but an elder is essentially dealing with numerous personalities and wills and in using the usual Church/Hospital—Spiritual Father/Doctor analogy, each illness requires a different treatment. A lay person cannot take their own personal experience and interactions with an elder and expect other people to have the exact same interactions and treatment. It really depends on the inner disposition of each person. This is the same with monastics to a certain degree].


I NEVER encountered ANY monk speaking of “murdering for the Elder,” but I did encounter how certain converts like Mr. Smith let themselves get carried away ON THEIR OWN.

[No monastic really talks about “murdering for the Elder,” but any serious monastic will attempt to cultivate an inner disposition of being willing to do anything whatsoever the Elder asks, no matter what it is, whether it is illogical, humiliating, even illegal. All the monasteries have their own stories of scandal cover-ups, white collar crime—which isn’t really considered a crime in the monasteries. It cannot be emphasized enough that when a monastic is given an obedience, the objective is not to question, examine, or judge the order given. A monastic must do this obedience unhesitatingly, with a good disposition, believing they will be judged on how they execute the obedience. A perfect example is Abraham. He never questioned God when ordered to sacrifice his son or the desert father who was ordered to throw his child into the river. Both were prevented before actually committing the murder. A monastic is to have this mindset—because the Elder may only be testing their obedience, loyalty and inner disposition. It should also be noted that an oral tradition and rule of the Holy Mountain is that the only time a monastic can be violent is if someone insults his Elder; a monastic is allowed to hit that person].

Sacrifice of Abraham
Sacrifice of Abraham; Blind Obedience.

Likewise, the odious and obvious baiting here used to slander the Elder by mentioning the “Protocols,” the “Serbs and other jurisdictions,” “other secret monasteries,” the “Birchers,” etc. is nothing but innuendo. Now, there are people who visit the monastery who mention these things just as there are in MOST Orthodox Monasteries. The rumor mill they propagate is NOT the orientation of the monastery just as a “homosexual Orthodox activist” or “matthewite” attending say the OCA Washington DC Cathedral and involving himself in their community is NOT the orientation of the Cathedral.

[Considering Geronda Ephraim mentions the Protocols in his 1974 book A Call from the Holy Mountain (translated into English in 1991) as well as some of his earlier Greek cassette homilies—a language Rotislav didn’t understand at that time—how can one claim that even though he said it, he didn’t mean it?]

Neither Elder Ephraim, nor Elder Paisios EVER talked about politics. They felt it was something profane. Elder Ephraim was even troubled by greetings and communiques from the deposed king of Greece and current Greek politicians FOR HE DID NOT WANT TO GET INVOLVED.

 [NOTE: Elder Ephraim only talks politics in certain situations. Geronda Paisios was told by Geronda Ephraim to lay off on talking conspiracy theories and politics to lay people, especially after the KVOA incident. Nowadays, one will only really hear these kind of conversations if he is a monastic and hangs out with the Abbots at a monastery feast day. Lay people don’t have the same privileges as monastics. Novices do not have the same privileges as rassaphores. Rassaphores do not have the same privileges as hieromonks. There is a hierarchy of knowledge and it is impenetrable by outsiders, novices and rassaphores. If one is allowed into this circle of knowledge by the Abbot or Abbess (and their second-in-commands) then they will know; if not, then they could be in a monastery for years and be clueless. Sometimes there are older monks or nuns “in the know” who lack the self-control to control their tongue. They may leak information they shouldn’t to other monastics or lay people. If this gets back to the Abbot or Abbess (because they may not always confess their transgression), there are usually huge penances meted out].


The “Protocols” were NEVER mentioned. As a matter of fact, a close supporter of the monastery, A. LIKOS, routinely denounced them as “forgeries, not worth talking about” when VISITORS brought them up. He is a spiritual son of the Elder and extremely close to him.

[NOTE: Athanasios Likos has been a spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim for decades. Again, he is as close to Geronda Ephraim as the Elder allows him to be. During that earlier time period, the monastics also had instructions to be careful around him because “he scandalizes easily and he repeats everything he sees or hears.” Pilgrims that scandalize easily and also talk a lot about everything are treated with a special care. They’re usually not exposed to too much, and the information they are allowed to hear, even though it may seem important and special to them, is usually nothing too important and something that if it is leaked wouldn’t come back to harm or damage the monastery. The Abbot or Abbess will usually forewarn their monastics when these sort of pilgrims plan to come to the monastery so they can be on their guard, as many times they like to probe the monastics for information. Though they are potentially very harmful, these sorts of pilgrims many times are useful to the monasteries—either financially, or through the help they give, or through connections they have, thus they’re kept around and tolerated. It should be noted that many lay people have experiences tailor-made for their own individual needs and short comings].

Geronda Ephraim and Fr. Anthony Moschonas Sitting and Chatting
Geronda Ephraim and Fr. Anthony Moschonas Sitting and Chatting

Lastly, I have witnessed Fr. Paisios and Elder Ephraim address their Bishops on bended knee and in full humility and obedience. They are Constantinople loyalists, and it is here where I have found my issue. Mr. Smith had no access to the books of the monastery and his knowledge of budgets, etc. is dubious at best. The monastery and Fr. Paisios provided them with the support they could. St. Antony’s is our American Optina and must treasured as such.

[NOTE: At that time, almost the entire monastery was banned from the office. Even if they knocked on the door because they needed something, the monastic would not be allowed to enter if he was not one of the few fathers with a blessing. At that time, it was basically Geronda Paisios, Fr. Silouanos, Fr. Chrysostomos, Akakios, Nektarios and Fr. Ilarion who had access to the office, as well as Irakles/Fr. Epifanios who later went to New York. Thus, David Smith would not know much about budgets other than basic things of a cost of a palm tree multiplied by however many were planted, or if he overheard other  fathers talking about costs of certain projects].


In closing, Mr. Smith has issues, and I hope for him and his family he resolves them. He is gifted and could add to Orthodox learning. His biblical research into the Nazorite Vow, for instance, is astoundingly brilliant. He simply needs a rudder. Orthodoxy is not about joining civil rights movements and the like and their secular concerns. He needs to decide who he is once and for all and grow in that direction. Is he an Old Calendarist, an Antiochian, a Byzantine Catholic, a Hassidim wannabe, a Black Muslim sympathizer, a member of ROCOR , the Serbs, or the GOA?! “Yes” to the above question simply will not do. Such dissonant views definitely drive one to psychotropic drugs as mentioned when they are not reconciled. He is in need of our prayers, for he bears a heavy cross. I ask the forgiveness of all for bringing these things up and that people discount who am I in homage to the truth.

Pray for me, the unworthy sinner…

Rostislav Mikhailovich Malleev-Pokrovsky


PS Fr. Theologos is a friend of mine, and he is one of the most happy and ardent Orthodox Christians I have ever met. His ardour amongst Protestants would be seen AS LIVING A GODLY LIFE, but certain Orthodox and others use him to advance an agenda. At 18, he chose to become a monk. I wonder if certain people would be so alarmed at his ADULT life decision if he chose to be homosexual, become an atheist, or join a rock band. It is shameful what they are putting him through.

[Interestingly, Fr. Theologos returned home in 2007 right after the St. Anthony’s Monastery Feast Day. Instead of flying back to his monastery in Harvard, he had a ticket arranged to take him home to Tennessee. Now he is married with children. It should also be mentioned that in reality, monks don’t have “friends,” they’re suppose to be dead to the world. A monastic is required to show love to lay people, be polite, have a good disposition, speak respectively even if they have logismoi or character conflicts with the said individual. This does not mean, however, that the monastic is a “friend” or “buddy” of the lay person. Many times, a monastic will exhibit this behavior with lay people they don’t like—not that they’re suppose to have dispositions of dislike—but they force themselves to be nice and kind as it is their Christian duty. In some cases, an Abbot or Abbess may give an obedience to one of their monastics to work with a lay person or monastic whom they dislike or have thoughts against so they can overcome these passions and unchristian dispositions. A perfect example from this time period are the novices Athanasios (Fr. Makarios) and Ioannis (Hieromonk Ioannikios). Almost daily they were giving each other prostrationsduring Orthros and asking forgiveness for whatever they did or said to each other during their diakonimata. They had a character conflict].

Abba Sisoes

PPS Isn’t it strange of the environment of compromise inaugurated into ROCOR by the Lebedeff camarilla is now manifesting itself by having new insurgent voices and their kit like “Indiana List” manifest anti-monasticism, anti-traditionalism, a let’s be modernist as fast as we can attitude. This, my friends, is why the compromise ROCOR made is so fatal, for they opened up the floodgates and they can’t stop the bleeding now. Moreover, the whole policy of guilt by accusation and innuendo WITHOUT the other side getting as much as a hearing, well, I hope we can appreciate the gravity of the situation, for it’s rolling down hill now. It wasn’t so much what they did, as it was the way they manifested it–MORAL RELATIVISM. Just like his mentor who left the port of Odessa in the middle of the night, ABANDONING his parishoners to the bolsheviks, this is what the Lebedeff camarilla is doing to the legacy of ROCOR and they are too ignorant or apathetic to do anything about it.


Response to David Smith’s continued allegations of anti-Semitism (Seraphim Larson, 2006)

Outstanding Party Worker in State Award was accepted by the PCRC Chairman, Seraphim Larsen on behalf of Karen Wall.
Outstanding Party Worker in State Award was accepted by the PCRC Chairman, Seraphim Larsen on behalf of Karen Wall.

Seraphim Larsen is a convert to Orthodoxy and has been a pilgrim to St. Anthony’s Monastery pretty much since its beginning. Geronda Paisios is his spiritual father and also the priest who baptized him. Thus, as a lay person, he is in a very good position to refute accusations against the monastery as he knows more than the average person due to his unique relationship with the fathers there. In December 2012, he was elected chairman for the Pinal County Republican Party (Florence, AZ is a town in and the county seat of Pinal County). He was also the representative for Presidential Candidate Ron Paul the same year. He is currently a member of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots.

I am finding it difficult to give an adequate answer to David (Nephon) Smith’s latest webpage, where he addresses my earlier blog on Elder Ephraim’s supposed anti-Semitism.

Geronda Paisios and David Smith.
Geronda Paisios and David Smith.

The difficulty does not lie in answering Smith’s specific complaints; in fact, he really makes only one specific accusation, namely, that Elder Ephraim teaches anti-Semitism (which I have already refuted). Rather, the difficulty lies in the long and winding path by which Smith arrives at that one accusation. This is a path strewn with misconceptions, misunderstandings, innuendo, and petty nonsense. It is very time-consuming to attempt to address each of these twists and turns – requiring more time than I have at my disposal. Therefore, I will provide a sampling, which I hope will be sufficient to indicate to readers the strained character of Smith’s argumentation. Following this, I will address one or two concrete issues.

Smith begins his answer to my earlier posting with a perplexing statement – “I never said the monks were racists or anti-Semites. I said that Ephraim’s teachings are anti-Semitic.” What is the purpose of this hair-splitting? Is he trying to distinguish between the terms “anti-Semite” and “anti-Semitic”? What is the point here? Following the same online dictionary that Smith referenced (link, and especially link), one sees that these terms are essentially synonomous: an anti-Semite is one who promotes anti-Semitic teaching.

Is he then trying to distinguish between the teachings of the monks at Elder Ephraim’s monasteries, and the teachings of the Elder himself? This does not make sense either, as Smith repeatedly refers to “the Monastery’s network of people”, teachings “propagated by the Monastery”, “taught by the monks”, or by “the Elder’s followers”. He generally equates all of these things.

Perhaps Smith intended to communicate some nuance that escapes my notice; were it not for this possibility, I would be inclined to regard Smith’s statement as petty equivocation.

Continuing through Smith’s argument, he makes the following assertions.

(1) The Protocols are absolutely proven forgery.

My response: There are many reasonable people who would not make such a firm and absolute assertion, either for or against the Protocols. I will address this later on in this post.

This Greek translation of the Protocols, with the subtitle: "The evil plans of the Zionists that flourishes today," was sold for years in St. Anthony's bookstore.
This Greek translation of the Protocols, with the subtitle: “The evil plans of the Zionists that flourishes today,” was sold for years in St. Anthony’s bookstore.

(2) Smith demonstrates that Elder Ephraim’s disciples have expressed various opinions on the issue, some opposing the authenticity of the Protocols, and some supporting it. He quotes from several of these people.

Smith looks upon this variety of opinion as vacillation – people scrambling to downplay the Elder’s references to the Protocols. Smith describes this circumstance as “interesting”, insinuating that there is some attempt at a “cover-up”.

A much simpler explanation is that, in fact, the Elder’s spiritual children are ordinary people with their own reasonably considered opinions, some of them accepting the Protocols as valid, some denouncing them, and others never having heard of them at all. However, Smith cannot take this position, because he asserts that the Elder is running a cult, that the Elder’s spiritual children “aren’t allowed” to have any opinions of their own, and that the Elder is “pushing” the Protocols on his “followers”. The more rational explanation is much simpler.

(3) Smith provides a quote from Saint Ambrose of Milan, presenting it in a light that makes the Saint appear to be an anti-Semite.

Smith does not even refer to this Holy Father as a Saint, but refers to him simply as “Bishop Ambrose of Milan”, despite the fact that Saint Ambrose is universally regarded as one of the greatest fathers of the Western Church. One immediately suspects that the Saint has been quoted out of context, and upon reading the source of the quote, one finds that this is indeed the case.

Sts. John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo are the usual saints targeted for anti-Semitism accusations, not St. Ambrose.
Sts. John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo are the usual saints targeted for anti-Semitism accusations, not St. Ambrose.

Saint Ambrose is writing a letter to the Emperor Theodosius, asking for clemency for a village bishop and some other Christians who were accused of burning down a synagogue. Apparently the Emperor had already decreed a sentence in the matter, and Saint Ambrose reminds him that the accused bishop had not even been allowed to give a defense of himself. The Saint further reminds the Emperor that many Jews and pagans had recently destroyed a large number of basilicas and churches, and had received no punishment for their deeds. How, then, could the Emperor rightly mete out a strict punishment against these Christians, whose guilt had not even been proven? This would not only be unjust, but would also be showing partiality to those who deny Christ; by doing so, the Emperor would be making himself an enemy of Christ.

In the course of this epistle, one can find the passage quoted by Smith. Smith condemns the “hateful practice” of burning synagogues, insinuating that Saint Ambrose actually condones this, where this is not at all what Saint Ambrose is advocating. Saint Ambrose was writing in defense of a particular group of Christians in the case of a particular event, not at all trying to persuade people in general to rise up against civil order and burn down synagogues as a general practice. Saint Ambrose certainly uses strong language in his admonition of the Emperor, referring to several Old Testament passages that condemn the false religion practiced at times by the ancient Jews, but this language is not even as strong as that used by the Apostles themselves (cf. Rev. 3:9).

In my opinion, Smith has shown himself to be an unreliable patristic interpreter, spinning the Saint’s writings to fit his own purposes. He skews the evidence to support his pre-determined conclusion. He even dares to misrepresent a great father of the Church in this way.

(4) Smith finally makes a concrete accusation – “There is NO place in Christianity for the kind of statements about Jews (or anyone else) that Ephraim is making and encouraging his followers to make.”

However, Smith has very little to stand on. He refers to one or two obscure references to the Protocols in Elder Ephraim’s books, and based on this he claims the Elder is teaching anti-Semitism. Based on the writings of “a disciple of Fr. Paisios”, who provides a general characterization of Judaic spirituality, Smith assumes he learned these things from St. Anthony’s Monastery, and declares there is “NO place in Christianity” for opinions of this kind.

Smith imagines there is a concerted secret effort going on amongst Elder Ephraim’s spiritual children to incite prejudice against the Jews and get people to believe in the Protocols. But Smith himself demonstrates that the Elder’s spiritual children have expressed many different opinions on the matter.

I think it is fair to ask, who is really being prejudiced here? Who is really taking an extreme position and making a ridiculous argument?

Geronda Ephraim has recanted his belief in the Protocols as a legitimate document.
Geronda Ephraim has recanted his belief in the Protocols as a legitimate document.

Now, to move on to Smith’s specific allegations. Smith continues to charge Elder Ephraim with teaching anti-Semitism, based solely on the Elder’s referring to the Protocols as though they were a genuine document. Smith cites many sources that purport to make the case that the Protocols are a forgery.

As I have already pointed out, it is quite possible for reasonable people to look at the evidence on both sides of the issue, and come to different conclusions. I personally believe that this happens because the issue is quite complex. People think differently and give different weight to the various points of evidence, thereby reaching different conclusions.

Smith, however, seems to think that the only way a person can assess the evidence and then conclude that the Protocols are genuine, is if the person is already predisposed by anti-Semitic prejudice. Of course, Smith’s approach precludes any rational discussion of the topic, since if a person takes the opposing point of view, Smith will denounce him as de facto anti-Semitic.

Smith therefore concludes that the Elder must teach (and therefore believe) anti-Semitism, because the Elder apparently teaches (and believes) that the Protocols are genuine.

I have already given substantial evidence to show that the Elder has absolutely no prejudice towards the Jews. But the only thing that seems to matter to David Smith is the Elder’s opinion of the Protocols; this is enough to convict the Elder of anti-Semitism. It doesn’t matter that many of the Elder’s spiritual children are Jews. It doesn’t matter that many of the monks and nuns in the Elder’s monasteries are Jews. It doesn’t matter that even the Elder’s personal physician is a Jew. It doesn’t matter to Smith that none of these people have ever complained of anti-Semitism from the Elder or from the monasteries, and that they have experienced no negative prejudice shown toward them. The only thing that seems to matter is this one allegation — that Smith believes the Protocols are a fraud — and anyone who disagrees with his opinion is anti-Semitic.

Which point of view is truly prejudiced?

Smith concludes his argument about anti-Semitism as follows: “The only reason to propagate the Protocols, like Ephraimites do, and like the Archdiocese allows the Ephraimites to, is if you honestly believe there is a conspiracy against Christianity by Zionists, which Ephraim certainly believes and it appears his followers do too.”

Surely Smith (and perhaps some other readers) will object that I have not yet come out and stated clearly whether the Elder actually does “honestly believe there is a conspiracy against Christianity by Zionists”, and so on.

It is true that I have not addressed the issue. I have many good reasons for this. Chiefly, this is a very serious topic that especially requires an appreciation and understanding of what the Holy Fathers have written about it. But in an atmosphere of innuendo, misunderstanding, and antipathy towards the Holy Fathers, to begin a discussion of these things in detail would surely only add to the confusion. This is why I have preferred to limit my current response, addressing only the disingenuous method of argumentation employed by David Smith.

If we are able to “clear the air” and discuss the issues forthrightly, with at least some deference shown toward the opinions of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, and without knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism being flung about, then perhaps a discussion of the Protocols would be worthwhile. But in the current atmosphere, I doubt such a discussion would be profitable for anyone.

SOURCE: https://web.archive.org/web/20070412034836/http://joyfullight.blogspot.com/2005/12/does-elder-ephraim-teach-anti-semitism.html

Geronda Paisios, abbot of St. Anthony's Monastery.
Geronda Paisios, abbot of St. Anthony’s Monastery.

Does Elder Ephraim teach anti-Semitism? (Seraphim Larson, 2005)

Seraphim Larsen is a convert to Orthodoxy and has been a pilgrim to St. Anthony’s Monastery pretty much since its beginning. Geronda Paisios is his spiritual father and also the priest who baptized him. Thus, as a lay person, he is in a very good position to refute accusations against the monastery as he knows more than the average person due to his unique relationship with the fathers there. In December 2012, he was elected chairman for the Pinal County Republican Party (Florence, AZ is a town in and the county seat of Pinal County). He was also the representative for Presidential Candidate Ron Paul the same year. He is currently a member of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots.

Seraphim Larsen's Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots Profile Pic. http://phoenixteaparty.ning.com/profile/SeraphimLarsen
Seraphim Larsen’s Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots Profile Pic. http://phoenixteaparty.ning.com/profile/SeraphimLarsen
As I mentioned earlier, I intend to address the issues raised by David Smith one-by-one.

The first issue he raises is anti-Semitism.  He accuses Elder Ephraim and the Fathers at Saint Anthony’s Monastery of being anti-Semites. Such a claim is absolutely unfounded.It is worth mentioning that the Elder’s own personal medical doctor in Phoenix is a Jew.  A lawyer that the Monastery uses is also a Jew.  In addition, there are a number of Monks who are from Jewish backgrounds, and at least one of the Orthodox Priests who regularly visits St. Anthony’s Monastery is a Jewish convert to Christianity.   I know two of these people quite well, and they have never complained of any anti-Semitic teaching coming from Elder Ephraim.

Fr. James Bernstein, Jewish convert to Orthodoxy.
Fr. James Bernstein, Jewish convert to Orthodoxy.

Smith provided some quotes from some of Elder Ephraim’s writings to try to prove that the Elder is anti-Semitic. For example:

One Sunday, a preacher delivered a sermon on “love your enemies.” On the Sunday after, he spoke against alcohol addiction – about the havoc it wrought among the Christian peoples. Incidentally, the infamous Zionists greatly boast about this in their notorious ‘Protocols.’

It is important to note, in the quotes cited by Smith, Elder Ephraim speaks against the Zionists, not Judaism or the Jewish people.

Zionism is not equivalent to Judaism — not at all. Zionism is “an international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine, and later for the support of modern Israel” (Merriam-Webster). The ranks of the Zionists have included many who are not even Jewish — for example, many American Evangelicals identify themselves with the Zionist movement.

Many people of greatly varied political and religious views are opposed to Zionism for many different reasons, and it would be ridiculous to claim that all of them are anti-Semites. There are even Jewish people and organizations that oppose Zionism. Are they also anti-Semites? This is plainly ridiculous.

Thus, there is no foundation at all to the accusation that Elder Ephraim and/or the fathers at Saint Anthony’s Monastery are racists or anti-Semites.  This accusation simply has no basis.


christopher3rd said…
The part of this comment that is deemed offensive is not the reference to Zionists, but the reference to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which is a forged, anti-Semitic text that is not primarily concerned with Zionism. For background see:


This clarification should not, in any way, be taken as a denouncement of Elder Ephraim or his monasteries in the US. Ignorance concerning Elder Ephraim and Orthodox, Athonite monasticism has been the basis for much of the controversy surrounding Geronda Ephraim. The lack of clarity in this defense of Geronda’s comments concerning the Protocols simply adds to the confusion.

The Protocols of Zion are assumed to be fact in many quarters of the world, and perhaps this is the basis of Geronda’s comments. Then again, the reference to “the infamous Zionists” is not the focus of his comment but on the alcohol additiction “among the Christian peoples”. The reference to “the Zionists… in their notorius Protocols” can be taken in the same way that a reference to Hamlet, Zeus, Raskolnikov, or other literary and folk figures, helps to underline a point. Referencing Zeus or Apollo is not tantamount to admitting their historicity, nor is quoting “To be or not to be” an approval of Prince Hamlet’s murderous actions or of Shakespeare himself.

We should remember to put the best construction on second and third hand information such as this, taken out of context, and mixed with vague suspicions of impropriety. These tendencies toward gossip are the basis of many of the accusations against Geronda Ephraim, as well as those against other “secret organizations” such as the Masons, the United Nations, and the “Elders of Zion” which are demonized without actual proof. Uninformed, anti-monastic, gossip is not appropriate to Christians- nor is fixating on who may or may not be wielding worldly power when our Lord’s Kingdom is not of this world.

12/13/2005 10:24 AM
Anonymous said…
Since Arabs can also be Semites, we cannot use the term anti-Semitism to describe someone who hates Jews as a people. The correct term would be “anti-Jewism” or perhaps “Jewphobia”, as a Jewish scholar suggested recently.

Apart from that, even if one supports the theory of the Protocols, this speaks against Zionism, which, beyond national borders, if seen as the belief system that it really is (the supposed 1000-year Jewish dominion etc.) is evidently against the teachings of the Orthodox Church. (For example read here

Unfortunately, I did not manage to find an excellent link that provides a 1000-page analysis (!!) as evidence to the contrary of the hoax theory by a serious scholar who has been in contact with Cohen and the others. Nevertheless, I do recall that the analysis admitted that the results, seen by all sides, are inconclusive, so one cannot claim that they have proof of the validity of the Protocols. At the same time however one cannot claim that they have proof that it is parody. If I find the link, I will send it here. (Apologies for this — but it is true).

"Every one is striving to ensure the creation of one religion.  And it will be accomplished in such a way – by claiming that 'all religions are the same;' that 'we shall form a new religion'… This is being done by something they call Zionism. " St. Porphyrios  the Kapsokalivite
“Every one is striving to ensure the creation of one religion. And it will be accomplished in such a way – by claiming that ‘all religions are the same;’ that ‘we shall form a new religion’… This is being done by something they call Zionism. ” St. Porphyrios the Kapsokalivite

Freemasonry however is a different fruit. There are no mysteries there; not today. It has been officially forbidden for Orthodox Christians by a regulation of the State Church of Greece Continuous Local Synod on more than one occasion. Many enlightened elders have spoken against the spiritually destructive nature of that organization, including recently by Elder Porphyrios, as can be found in Conitsiotis’ well-known book (now the third edition also available in English).

Even if one just takes into consideration the fact that they (as they themselves admit) start their sessions by a common prayer “each to their god”, in true violation of the Orthodox ordinances that anathematise anyone who does this, one can see clearly that Orthodoxy and Freemasonry are incompatible.

The well-known and respected father of blessed memory archimandrite Vasilopoulos wrote about the para-religious cult-like form of Freemasonry in the past. Many reporters, right or left wing, Greek and English, have written on the subject, the world over. There is well-established literature that discusses the para-religious nature of Freemasonry. This of course is also admitted by the older freemasons who were whistling a different tune before they were unmasked. See for example Pythagoras Lodge’s magazine, edition 1, January, 1930 (in Greece).

Archimandrite Haralmabos Vasilopoulos wrote extensively about the Protocols and Zionism.
Archimandrite Haralmabos Vasilopoulos wrote extensively about the Protocols and Zionism.

Returning to the issue of anti-Semitism, however. I *do* wonder. Why is it that we do not hear anyone calling some Jews as anti-Hindo-European or something?

Even black people can be labeled as anti-white and white of course as racists. But Jews are never seen as being in a position to be racist.

Yet when a religious orthodox Jew reads the Zohar (11, 64B)
and “learns” that “the births of Christians must be reduced”, or when he opens up Makkoth (7B) to read that he is “innocent of crime if the purpose is the murder of a Christian”; please tell me: would I be an “anti-Semite” when I ask the above question?

According to the ADL, the film “The Passion of the Christ” was anti-Semitic because it showed the Jews as murderers! Of course, as an Orthodox I disagree with the portrayal of God in movies, but the point is that the use of the word “anti-Semite” is totally in the hands of the rich and powerful American Jewish lobbies and ADL to receive any absurd meaning they want it to receive.

The Passion of Christ is blessed for Geronda Ephraim's  monks and nuns. Some of the monks and nuns have this movie on their IPODs.
The Passion of Christ is blessed for Geronda Ephraim’s monks and nuns. Some of the monks and nuns have this movie on their IPODs.

Elder Ephraim, by being Orthodox, cannot by default BE anti-Jewish since our Christ according to the flesh was a Jew! And we are to love our enemies, even those of the Jews who openly oppose Orthodoxy.

When the US media (newspapers, channels and some major magazines) are all in Jewish hands, together with Hollywood, do you really expect anything different for the propaganda of the public opinion?

As for the existence or not of “conspiracies”. Well, certainly some MUST take place since we had 9/11 carefully orchestrated around our head.

Again, one-sided information was provided by the media in order that Jewish people do not get under the gun of suspicion. Yet very few people bothered to find out on their own that the Associated Press recorded that a short while before the explosions, Scotland Yard sent a telegram to the Israeli Secretary of Treasury Mr. Benjamin Netaniahu not to go to the hotel where he was going to give a speech but to stay at his hotel.

This is a fact; and yet, if one mentioned it today insinuating that certain Israeli groups (and in fact British groups) had foreknowledge of the attacks would most likely once again be labelled as an “anti-Semite”.

Well, I love all people, for all people are images of the Holy Trinity. And whatever they do wrong under the influence of the Devil is not a matter for hatred but sadness. “If God is with us, who is against us?”

However, I do not like to fall victim to the empty and well-known propaganda of “anti-Semitism”, in the same way I do not like any time of propaganda, whether of a sociopolitical or of a religious nature.

The Elder is not a racist, for that would undermine all he ever wanted to be. Religious Zionism, whether people like to hear it or not, is anti-Christian by default and in many ways similar to the ultra-nationalist Greek “Hellenists” that have recently emerged. In both cases phyletism is the underlying issue and phyletism has been FORMALLY condemned by the Orthodox Church.

The Elder has named his black pets, or pets with lots of black color, "Arapi", which is the Greek equivalent of 'Nigger.' Sometimes the monks Basilios, Mattheos, etc. are referred to as "Arapi" behind their backs.
The Elder has named his black pets, or pets with lots of black color, “Arapi”, which is the Greek equivalent of ‘Nigger.’ Sometimes the monks Basilios, Mattheos, etc. are referred to as “Arapi” behind their backs.

Thank you.

1/04/2006 3:29 PM
Anonymous said…
The link, as promised.

Myers is a serious and honest scholar who is however non-Christian. Nevertheless, he provides some significant pieces of information that refute some of the common arguments in favor of the “hoax story”.

http://users.cyberone.com.au/myers/hiding.html (dead link)


Of course, there is always the former Rabbi Benjamin Freedman’s explicit revelation, who, deeply knowledgeable in the Talmudic teachings being a professor, in 1954, after converting to Christianity, wrote an open letter to the arch-rabbi of Boston Dr. David Goldstein, LL. D, dated 10th October 1954. There, for the first time, Americans learnt the deep hatred that the Talmudist Jews hold for us. Iore Dea (148, 12H) for example, also quoted in that letter, remind us of the Pharisaical hypocrisy we meet in the Bible: “Hide your hatred against the Christians during their festivities.”

Orthodox Christians love and get on well with both Moslems and Judaizing Jews. However, both Islam and Supremacist Zionism as religious systems are against the spirit of the Orthodox Church.

For example, take St. Kosmas the Aetolos. Both Christians and Moslems in Greece (circa 1765) respected greatly this monk, but some Judaizing Jews hated him. Thus, the Jews of Ipiros in Greece slandered his name — that he was supposedly an instrument of the Russians and was preparing the revolution of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire.

St. Kosmas Aitolos frequently refers to Jews as "children of the devil" in his sermons.
St. Kosmas Aitolos frequently refers to Jews as “children of the devil” in his sermons.


Thus, while he was preaching the word of God in the village of Kolikontasi of Beratius in Albania, he was arrested on 23 August 1779, by issue of Kurt Pasha, and the next day hanged by a tree by the river Apsus. His body was thrown to the river, from where it was eventually picked up by the village priest.

These are facts. Even if they may not be politically correct. The Elder speaks in love and humility, not with hatred. Christians are to love their enemies. That is the best defence against all the hatred we face. Amen.



A Call from the Holy Mountain (Elder Ephraim of Philotheou)

Elder Ephraim’s joining ROCOR brought about one of the first translations of his work into English; thus making his teachings available to the English-speaking world of the West. Though the translation was done by someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language, this book was a best seller.

One can find a free pdf copy of this classic here:

In 1991, the year Elder Ephraim joined ROCOR, A Call From the Holy Mountain was translated into English by St. Sarov Press, Blanco, TX (this Monastery would later shut down due to a huge sex scandal; the abbot later committed suicide in jail). The first page states, “Printed with the blessing of His Grace Bishop HILARION, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.”

Bishop Hilarion.
Bishop Hilarion.

The original text is a 1974 publication which the Elder wrote shortly after transplanting his synodeia to Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos. It was written as an invitation for people to become monastics. At the end, Geronda Ephraim talks about the Antichrist, Ecumenism, Zionism and the Protocols. This would come to bite him later:

“…This pan-heretical alchemy [i.e. Ecumenism] is being inspired through the so-called World Council of Churches. We think that the term is not true to the fact, for it does not concern a World Council of Churches but a World Council of Will Worship. The only god to demand a tribute of worship there will be the fallen Beelzebub who through his representative amongst men, the Antichrist, will try to substitute his own will for the faith and worship of the true God. For in Ecumenism there is no personal God; for consistent ecumenists the doctrine of the Trinitarian God is utterly rejectable.

It is well known that the devil-instigated Zionism is coordinating two insidious operations both within and without the Church aspiring to one and the same end; to destroy the fortress known as Orthodoxy.

The cover of Arch. Haralambos Vasilopoulos'
The cover of Arch. Haralambos Vasilopoulos’ “Jewish Masonry Unmasked.” This book was also removed from monastery bookstores after the KVOA news story.

Papists, Protestants, Jehovah Witnesses, Freemasons, Unionists, Ecumenists and any other “root of bitterness” — all these have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (pp. 42-44).

Of course, though the book itself is not about Zionism, the Elder does speak of the Protocols as a legitimate document, something that was very common among Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical writers and preachers during the 70’s, especially on Mount Athos . Geronda Ephraim’s statement is almost a direct quote from the writings of Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos who wrote extensively about Zionism, the Protocols, Freemasonry, the Vatican, Ecumenism and the Antichrist:

Geronda Ephraim has recanted his belief in the Protocols as a legitimate document.
Geronda Ephraim has recanted his belief in the Protocols as a legitimate document.

During the first few years of St. Anthony’s Monastery, when Vladimir/Fr. Symeon worked in the bookstore, A Call from the Holy Mountain was on the bookshelves. Most of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries sold this book as well, at least until Counsels from the Holy Mountain was published. Around that time, St. Anthony’s stopped selling the book and Fr. Symeon stated that Geronda Paisios didn’t want it in the bookstore because Geronda Ephraim never gave a blessing for it to be translated. Keep in mind, though, that when this book was translated, Geronda Ephraim was in ROCOR and his Bishop was Hilarion, whom he was in obedience to as his hierarch. This same Bishop Hilarion, who didn’t need a blessing from his subordinate (Geronda Ephraim) gave his blessing for the book to be translated. Furthermore, the Greek edition had been out of print for years, and there were only so many copies published. Where did the Bishop get a copy of this rare booklet?

So while St. Anthony’s boycotted this book, the other monasteries still sold it. In 1999, a huge sex scandal of homosexual child molestation at the ROCOR monastery in Blanco, TX was made public, they also had a fake weeping icon that the monks rigged. After this, it looked really bad that Geronda Ephraim’s name was on a booklet published by this monastery. Some of the other monasteries sold photocopies of this booklet afterwards, but most distanced themselves from the association.

Now after the KVOA news story broke, Fr. Markellos was working in the bookstore, and the story changed to “Geronda Ephraim never even wrote the book.” However, he did, the writing style is the same and there was only one abbot named Ephraim at Philotheou who was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Cave-dweller.

Fr. Markellos worked in St. Anthony's Bookstore in the mid-2000s.
Fr. Markellos worked in St. Anthony’s Bookstore in the mid-2000s.

After the KVOA scandal, Geronda Ephraim sent an obedience to all his monasteries to pull any books that speak about Zionsim or the Protocols from their bookstores. And this was done. The obedience was given to all monks and nuns to respond with, “We don’t believe those kind of things” (i.e. Protocols, conspiracy theories, new world order, etc.), if asked by pilgrims. David Smith was explained off as someone with a lot of psychological problems who didn’t do obedience and became deluded and now the demons were using him to attack Geronda.

Ecumenism without a Mask. A 1972 book which explains the Protocols as the blueprint for destroying the Orthodox Church and the Zionist plan for Jewish world domination. This book was removed from the monasteries' bookstores after the KVOA expose.
Ecumenism without a Mask. A 1972 book which explains the Protocols as the blueprint for destroying the Orthodox Church and the Zionist plan for Jewish world domination. This book was removed from the monasteries’ bookstores after the KVOA expose.

It is said that at the New York monastery, Geronda Joseph made his monks pull all the garbage bags from the bin and go through each one carefully to look for a piece of paper that could potentially vindicate Geronda Paisios. Apparently, David Smith and written an apology but had sent it to St. Nektarios Monastery. Geronda Joseph didn’t know David Smith and threw it out thinking it was meaningless. The paper was never found.

NOTE: Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos wrote many books on conspiracy theories. He wrote about the Protocols being a legitimate document. He wrote that blood libel was true. He wrote that the “age old dream of the Jews was world domination.” He wrote that Zionists created Masonry, Theosophy, Chiliasm, Ecumenism, etc., as instruments to destroy the Church and help them obtain a world government to lord it over the nations. His books, though written in Greek, would contain photocopies of neo-Nazi literature in English (publications from The Cross and the Flag, Women’s Voice, etc.).One such book, Theosophy Unveiled, has been translated into English:

Also, though most of the books have been removed from the bookshelves, one can still order mp3s containing similar content about the Protocols being a legitimate blueprint for Jewish world domination and the destruction of Christianity, etc. from St. Anthony’s (as well as other monasteries).

The following are excerpts from the A12 Commentary on the Apocalypse by Fr. Athanasios Mitilinaios. It can be purchased in mp3 or book format from St. Anthony’s Monastery (as well as most of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries):

DVD: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/ccp7/index.php?app=ecom&ns=prodshow&ref=1AM01

Book: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/ccp7/index.php?app=ecom&ns=prodshow&ref=3HOMILIES_ON_REVEL

Rev. 2:9 – I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

“…Since these Jews failed to believe in Christ and became witnesses of the great advancement of the Christian nations, while they seemed to abide under a certain curse, they became extremely jealous and vindictive against the Christian nations.

The Lord prophesies this jealousy in the Parable of the Prodigal Son with the attitude, or psychology, of the older son. This older son represents the Jews who became very jealous when they saw the younger son welcomed, embraced and justified by the Father. The Prodigal Son represents the nations that distanced themselves from the true God and were losing the salvation of their souls—the great inheritance—to sin and idolatry. Now, God calls the nations.

Remember the historical evidence of this when Paul spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem and told them God sent him to the nations. As soon as the word ‘nations’ came out of his mouth, they were demonized, throwing soil in the air, ripping their clothes, and yelling to the Roman centurions, “Kill him!”…

The older son’s psychology towards the younger continues to work itself out in history. We see this in the lives of the Apostles. The Jews persecuted Paul everywhere he went. They conspired to kill him. These are the deeds of the unbelieving Jews, full of spite, guile, and murderous attempts…

Do you see the mindset of the Jews back then? In reality, they were demonized against the church; they were possessed by a murderous jealousy against the Christians…

The Jews created the Zionist Movement in order to deal with this frustration [i.e. that their Messiah has not come], which is nothing more than an attempt to take back their rights, punish the nations under the foot of which they were humbled as Hebrews of the diaspora, to hold their heads over the nations and to dominate all these nations…

This is a terrible reality. This is a very dark power with many tentacles which have spread out and embraces the entire world with the sole purpose to subdue and infiltrate the Christian nations mainly. My friends, these are not myths, this is not anti-Semitism, and we are not being prejudiced here…

Let us not forget that Chiliasm (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Freemasonry and Ecumenism are the works of Zionism and they are on their way to grip the entire world…

The Zionists have succeeded in fighting the Christians from within, to turn the Christians against one another, their faith and their own countries, etc.

The fact is, these people infiltrate the political systems of every nation and attempt to hold the economy of these nations in their hands—the stock markets, the government, the press and mass communications… The greatest newspapers of the world are in the hands of the Jews and they offer the news exactly how they want. This is the way they lord it over the nations and this can be seen very clearly in the Protocols of the Wise of Zion, a book published last century. By reading the content of the Protocols, one can easily see that their objectives and schemes against the nations have been fully revealed and met.

The Synagogue of Satan is the most appropriate description of these people because Satan is the one behind this synagogue. If one goes along with Satan, he becomes Satan.”

NOTE: The entire Apocalypse Series by Fr. Athansios is filled with many homilies that speak about International Zionism, Jewish Conspiracies, Blood Libel, Freemasonry, New World Order, and conspiracy theories in general. Though many Greek Orthodox Christians do not share these views, and some official leaders have spoken out publicly against such views (i.e. in the case of Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus’ anti-Semitic tirade in 2010, or in 2011/12 when Greek Orthodox priests were blessing the offices of the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn), the views expressed above are held by many contemporary Greek and Athonite Elders and subsequently passed on to their disciples, both monastics and lay persons. Fr. Athansios Mitilinaios is considered the ‘New Chrysostom’ in both the spiritual and monastic circles of Greece. He is hailed as the most Patristic-minded and accurate commentator on scripture of the 20th century.