Back in 2010-11 especially, I was reading Father Seraphim Rose a lot - especially in relation to the End Times: that era of the world in which events move towards the end of this reality and the second coming of Christ.
The data of this is unknown and indeed unknowable - but the fact of us living in the End Times has been apparent for about 200 years, in a broad consensus across thinking Christians whom I respect.
One aspect is the corruption of human institutions, including the church; and the 'antichrist' phenomenon by which evil masquerades as Good: in other words persons and organisations that have evil motivations and intentions, deliberately and explicitly adopt and emphasise some good attributes in order to deceive Christians, and enlist their cooperation.
This is now very familiar from global political groupings, charities, NGOs and the like; but perhaps especially in the mainstream Christian churches - the current Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby) is an exceptionally clear example.
But the meaning of the End Times for Christians is worth pondering - because the message is that there is no safe way to be a Christian.
Actually, this has always been the case - because Christianity cannot go to any extreme. But the fact that the churches are corrupted, and mostly from the top down, means that they will be organised such as to do net evil. A Christian who joins a church and then does what it says will - probably - be led away from Christianity and into de facto apostasy.
Yet of course, all the old strictures against Christians going-it-alone still apply! Several major churches assert (without much conviction, sometimes) that there is no salvation to be had outside of their membership and ministrations.Yet, all honest churchmen will freely admit than being inside, in and of itself does no good either - and there have always been acknowledged exceptions when the church was not vital.
What is vital to keep in mind is that God is the creator and our loving Father - hence it is inconceivable he would leave any one of his children without the means of salvation and the ability to discern it - IF our motivations are genuine.
Motivations are (almost) everything!
That seems to be the lesson of the End Times. Surface appearances, and indeed actions - mean very little by comparison. Bad motivations will contaminate any organisation and anybody; good motivation will win salvation and theosis in the end.
But of course the problem is in discerning motivations! Especially in these latter days; the surface of things is deceptive; there is more dishonesty than honesty - and what is most deceptive is that truth is cunningly mixed with lies to be maximally misleading.
There is no escape from the absolute requirement for individual judgement as the basis for life: this seems to be the great lesson of the End Times.
Nonetheless, if we work on the genuineness of our motivations; trying, failing and self-correcting; ensuring we learn from experience; then we have been given everything we need to navigate to where we want-and-need to be.
This has become so blatant in recent years that, to me, it affirms that our enemies are not of the flesh of this world, but are the authorities and principalities . . . This realization gives me a measure of strength and calmness.
@Anon - Please us a pseudonym; I don't usually print anonymous comments (there's more than enough anonymity in the modern world).
A reader of your blog for about a year, and my thanks to you for sharing your thoughts.
I would be interested to hear what you think about how the importance of motivations squares with the case where 'motivations are good' but the results are catastrophic, see Communism, where the motivations of the puppet masters were perhaps very sinister but many people may have gone along with it out of good intentions, even today in the west.
Are those doing evil out of good intentions, as many on the left today, to be held responsible, do you think? (Not trying to be confrontational, just interested in your ideas)
@DA - Well... you cannot ever base an ethical system on a single virtue - so good motivation is necessary but never sufficient.
The main counterweight is honesty. Comunists may have had good intentions, but when the good intentions led to bad outcomes (agains, and again, and agaon...) they became dishonest and denied their own experience.
It is long since the Left became routinely and systematically dishonest, and (since the middle 1960s) they have incrementally led Western society exactly the same way.
Whatever the motivation, it is currently an absolute requirement for Leftists to be fundaentally dishonest... if they are to remain Leftist.
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