Telling God's Word
Elder Cleopa of Romania (1912 -1998)
Key Facts and Ideas
"Many are called but few are chosen." So Jesus taught as recorded in Matthew 22:14. All Christians may receive heavenly gifts but only a very small number live lives of such openness to God that their words, authenticated by their lives, are recognised by the Church as words from God Himself. Such was Elder Cleopa of Romania but there have been many, many others throughout the history of the Church. The Pentecostal gift of prophecy has never died out in the Orthodox Church but we differ from many other Christian traditions in insisting by witness of common experience and Tradition that true prophecy is rare.
There have always been issues in the Church concerning false prophecy not only in the New Testament but stretching all the way back to the time of Moses. It was at this time that the first Church of Israel laid down some criteria for discernment, checks and balances to ensure that the prophetic word really was from God and not from the devil disguised. (See Deuteronomy 18:15-22). The basic tests concern fulfilment if predictive and consistency with Scripture / Tradition if a matter of teaching.
Although there are problems associated with false prophecy, prophecy as such is vital to the Church. We do not live as those whose God is mute and inactive. God speaks to his People through his servants the prophets. Some are monastics of great experience and sanctity, some are teachers "in the world." The genuineness of their sayings can be gauged by the humility with which they submit their words to the whole Church. By their fruits you shall know them.
God speaks, we listen and tell, the Church discerns.
How do we tell the difference between what God is saying to us and merely what we happen to be thinking about at the time?
1. The Spiritual Father in Orthodox Christianity by Bishop Kallistos Ware
2. Spiritual Guidance in the World (OCIC links)
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