A very high-ranking European man about Protestantism, Roman-Catholicism & Orthodoxy



A very high-ranking European man

about Protestantism, Roman-Catholicism & Orthodoxy

Fr. Athanasios Simonopetritis (from the Monastery of Simonos Petra Monastery, Holy Mount Athos, Greece) says:

Last year came to our monastery a very high-ranking European man. We chatted with cordiality. Eventually, I asked him: “Welcome! Why did you come to us, ordinary monks, you, a famous man, at moment we are not anything great…”.

He replied disarmingly: “Father, you may not be something great, as you say. However, you live in a great space and you have a great treasure, Orthodoxy!”.
I deliberately insisted on the same pace, saying: “What can a so prominent man wait by Orthodoxy?”

In the debate were four or five fathers. He looked into our eyes one by one and said: “Listen Fathers, I will confess you something: Today both ways of expression of Christianity are in intractable, we have been tired with them. Both Roman-Catholicism with legalistic spirit and Protestantism with the hard logic crushed us. We want heart and freedom! These elements are in Orthodoxy. Perhaps you don’t understand. However, we understand very well”




Finding the Faith of St Joseph of Arimathea: An Interview with Fr. Jonathan Hemmings, England ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* The tradition of faith in Great Britain goes back to the Apostolic era!








Finding the Faith of St Joseph of Arimathea:

An Interview with Fr. Jonathan Hemmings, England


The tradition of faith in Great Britain goes back to the Apostolic era!

by Tudor Petcu





A Romanian writer, Tudor is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania. He has published a number of articles related to philosophy and theology in different cultural and academic journals. His work focuses on the evolution of Orthodox spirituality in Western societies as well and he is going to publish a book of interviews with Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. In this article, he interviews Fr. Jonathan Hemmings, Orthodox theologian, who is the priest of the Holy Life-Giving Cross Orthodox Church in Lancaster, UK, talks about faith and love in Christ.


1.) Before discussing your conversion to Orthodoxy, I would appreciate it a lot if you could talk about your main spiritual experiences and journies untill you have discovered the Orthodox Church.

First of all, we need to be sure of what we mean when we use the term convert or “conversion.” We all need to be converted – both those who come from different traditions and confessions and those from traditionally Orthodox countries who are referred to as “cradle Orthodox”. Christianity is not a Philosophy, it is a relationship with the All Holy Trinity. We are converted to Christ and we are received into the (Orthodox) Church through Baptism and/or Chrismation. Sometimes this happens in the other order of events. Those who are Baptised Orthodox as babies need to employ the gift of the Holy Spirit given to them; those who are called to the Orthodox Christian faith are prompted by the same All Holy Spirit. As Metropolitan Kallistos said

“We Orthodox know where the Holy Spirit is but we cannot say where He is not.”

As scripture says

“the Holy Spirit moves where He wills.”

One has to experience the Orthodox Church either through her Liturgy or through the “living signposts of the faith” whom God sets before us if we are open to the Truth. By “ living signposts” I mean men and women who possess grace and in whom we see the light of Christ. Christianity in the west tends to be analytical and logical, Eastern Christianity is synthetic and mystical and engages the whole of our being.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind with all your strength, with all your heart and with all your soul.

The fact that we do metanoias (reverences or bows) shows that even prayer is a physical as well as a mental process. I have always believed in God, from a little child. I cannot remember a time when I did not believe in God. I had the right Christ, I just needed the right Church. Of course all this was a preparation for me to discover or rather recover the Orthodox faith.

2.) How would you characterise your own spiritual road to Orthodoxy? According to this question, would it be correct to say that Orthodoxy is able to heal the wounded souls?

I am like the Prodigal son in the parable who returns to his father. The Orthodox faith according to tradition was brought to Britain by St Joseph of Arimathea. An early Archbishop of Canterbury was Greek- St Theodore of Tarsus. St Constantine the Great was made Augustus Emperor here in York when he was in charge of the sixth Legion. So did not choose to find something “foreign” I returned to the Church which was established here in Britain.

The Orthodox Church is Universal as we proclaim on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The Church is the hospital for souls. As Blessed Augustine said

“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God”

Restlessness of the spirit is a characteristic of this age. So I have not discovered something new, I have recovered something authentic and original.

3.) Considering all what you have experienced over the years from the spiritual point of view, why is Orthodoxy so precious and meaningful to you?

Well, I believe Orthodoxy is not only original, unchanged and authentic but it is the teaching and preaching of Christ’s Apostles (Kerygma and Paradosi). Tradition is not simply historical, it is vital and dynamic. The Orthodox way fulfils the needs of the whole person and makes the broken person whole. It is precious because it is the

“pearl of great price.”

Once you find it, then you must share this treasure with others and not keep it to yourself.

4.) Do you think that Orthodoxy could be considered a burning bush?

I have a stone from Mount Sinai which contains the image of the bush which Moses saw burning and yet which was not consumed. If you want to forge metal, you must first heat it and out it into the fire and then you can shape it to the tool you require. When we are put into the fire of God, the same happens. It is so God can shape us into the person that He has called us to be. When we are alive in God then we become all flame. We are standing on holy ground, so when we approach God we must do so with awe before the majestic power of God.

5.) Now, I would like you to tell me what does the Orthodox monasticism mean for you and what impressed you most in your monastic pilgrimage, if I can call it like that?

Orthodox Monasteries are “LightHouses” for souls. They are often remote and inaccessible because the quietness for the soul requires asceticism . They are full of angels because the angelic life is lived there. When we say in the Lord’s Prayer

“Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”

then this is what monks are doing. The very walls of the Churches are filled with prayer and so one can feel tangibly the peace of God. It is this peace which passes all understanding that one experiences. Again I say that Orthodoxy is Life in the sense that we experience it, we live it. I have been to many Orthodox Monasteries in Romania. The most memorable moments are when I met Pr Ioanichie Balan in Sihastria Monastery and when I served the Holy Liturgy with Pr. Teofil Paraian( the blind Staretz) at Sambata de Sus. These were moments when the veil between heaven and earth was very thin.

6.) What would be the difference between you as a heterodox and you as an Orthodox?

I am complete. When Our Lord died on the Cross he said in St Johns Gospel

“It is finished”

but this also means

“It is completed”

that is, the work of salvation. In this sense “conversion” is an extension of what I once was. As C. S. Lewis ( much respected by Orthodox) once put it

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

As I have said before, I have always loved God but the depths of Orthodoxy provide me with the resources that nourish my soul.

7.) I remember some words which impressed me much while I was discussing with a Swiss writer converted to Orthodoxy. He was saying that he was born to hate but through Orthodoxy reborn to love. How would you characterise these words as a convert to Orthodoxy?

We were all born to love. Christ summarised the Commandments as Loving God and Loving your neighbour. Orthodox Christianity can be summarised in these words. But love is a verb… we must put into action those things which we believe. I am sure the prisons in Romania are full of criminals who would call themselves Orthodox and who have been baptised as such, but sin found a place in their hearts. Glory to God he is merciful and loves mankind! And so we must live out our life in peace and repentance. Being Romanian does not make you Orthodox anymore than being Greek, Russian, Serb or British. There was no ethnic identity in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve’s transgressions. May the love of God embrace us all.


This interview is one of many that will be published in the book “The rediscovery of Orthodox heritage of the West” by Tudor Petcu, containing interviews with different Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. It will be published in two volumes and the first one will appear by the end of this year.

Robert Arakaki, Hawaii, USA: From Unchurched Hawaiian to Local Orthodox









Robert Arakaki, Hawaii, USA:

From Unchurched Hawaiian to Local Orthodox



I grew up unchurched. I became a Christian in high school through reading the Living Bible. I was active in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Hawaii. My home church was Kalihi Union Church (KUC), a fine evangelical congregation that was part of the United Church of Christ (UCC).

I was deeply troubled by the UCC’s liberal theology and wanted to help it return to its biblical roots. This led me to study at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for the purpose of preparing to become an evangelical seminary professor in the liberal United Church of Christ to help the UCC return to its biblical roots.

However, in a surprising turn of events, I became Orthodox!

It was my first week at seminary. As I walked down the hallway of Main Dorm I saw on the door of one of the student’s room an icon of Christ. I thought to myself,

“An icon in a Calvinist seminary!?!”

This was to be the first of many encounters with Eastern Orthodoxy.

After receiving my M.A. in Church History, I did doctoral studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. While there I attended Saints Kyril and Methodios Bulgarian Orthodox Church. I was drawn to the deep mystical worship of liturgical worship that was rooted in the historic Christian Faith. I also felt comfortable with its all-English services and a congregation that was made up mostly of converts. Orthodox worship presents a stark contrast to the emotionally driven entertainment that passes for contemporary Evangelical worship.

My journey to Orthodoxy began when little questions about Protestant theology turned into big questions, and the big questions turned into a theological crisis. Protestant theology holds up so long as one accepts certain premises but becomes problematic when considered from the standpoint of church history and the early Church Fathers. As a church history major I became painfully aware that much of what passes for Evangelicalism: the altar call, the symbolic understanding of the Lord’s Supper, the inductive bible study method, minimalist creed, the rapture, all have their origins in the 1800s.

This means that Evangelicalism is a modern innovation as is Liberalism.

But more troubling was my investigation of classical Reformation theology, e.g., Martin Luther and John Calvin. Two foundational tenets of Protestantism: sola fide (faith alone) and sola scriptura (Bible alone), were not part of the early Church and rely upon reading the Bible in a certain way. Moreover, these two tenets originated out of the theological debates of Medieval Scholasticism. In other words, the Protestant Reformation marks not a return to the historic Christian Faith, but rather a late innovation.

What makes Orthodoxy so daunting to an Evangelical is its understanding that to have the true Faith means belonging to the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church. If the Orthodox Church is the true Church, then that meant that I needed to resign my membership from Kalihi Union Church and become Orthodox. I was received into the Orthodox Church on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1999 at Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Honolulu. I am very grateful for what I have learned from Evangelicalism but there is so much more to Christianity. Orthodoxy is the fulfillment of Evangelical theology and worship.

Robert Arakaki, Hawaii, USA

Video: The Sound of Divine Steps in Ghana & Ivory Coast – From Protestantism to Orthodoxy




The Sound of Divine Steps in Ghana & Ivory Coast

From Protestantism to Orthodoxy

December 2015 – New Orthodox Baptisms in Philippines: Two Filipino Protestant Bishops, Four Pastors and Their Flock




Orthodox Philippines



New Baptisms in Philippines:

Two Filipino Protestant Bishops,

Four Pastors and Their Flock




Two former Protestant “Bishops”, Four Pastors and their parishioners were recently baptized by Orthodox priests in the Philippines. Baptism of hundreds of protestants was carried out by Orthodox priests. More new mass Baptisms are expected in another 29 Filipino communities later this year!

All Merry Christmas and happy new year!

Joseph Olivares, USA: What is Eastern Orthodoxy & Why Did I Decide to Become Orthodox?



- Photography by Daniel Greenwood  www.facebook.com-photographybydanielgreenwood.jpg

What is Eastern Orthodoxy & Why Did I Decide to Become Orthodox?

Joseph Olivares, USA

The Incredible Tale of Klaus Kenneth, Germany





The Incredible Tale of Klaus Kenneth, Germany




After an incredible, almost unbelievable life, one man tells Theo Panayides how his search for love was finally successful.

Klaus Kenneth is God’s gift to newspapers. His life, as he tells it, has been so full of incident and adventure that the only problem for a journalist is how to fit it all in. He was a gang leader at 12, a terrorist at 22 and a junkie at 25. He’s been a Buddhist monk, a Hindu mystic and an occultist in Central America. He’s known Andreas Baader (of Baader-Meinhof fame) and Mother Teresa. The biography on his website (www.klauskenneth.com) offers more talking-points than could ever be encompassed in a single interview. Here, for instance, is the entry for the year 1980:

“Fribourg, Switzerland; Professor in Gruyeres (private school); demon attacks; destruction of all relationships; isolation accentuated; refuge in alcohol; ecstasy through dance; first letters about Jesus from Ursula.”

You don’t write a Profile about Klaus; the Profile writes itself.

Klaus Kenneth is also God’s gift to churches – especially the Orthodox Church, which is where he turned after decades of spiritual wandering, a meeting with Father Sophrony of Essex (a man whom he describes as “Love incarnate”) leading to a full Orthodox baptism in 1986. Klaus was in Cyprus for a few days, speaking – mainly in churches – about his turbulent life and recently-published autobiography Born to Hate, Reborn to Love (the better German title translates as ‘Two Million Kilometres of Searching’). We speak at the Church of Apostolos Andreas in Aglandjia, just before his lecture – and, just as I turn on my tape recorder and start to ask the first question, the church bells start to peal loudly, making him smile. Back in Mexico, muses Klaus, when he was summoning spirits, such a coincidence would be seen as “a sign from the spiritual world”. What kind of sign? A good sign?

Probably, he shrugs. After all, the bells are a way of summoning believers to the church, and

“the church is life-giving. But the church is also death-giving sometimes, when the priests are not good.”

Has he had that kind of bad experience?

“Well,” he shrugs again, “I was violated by a homosexual priest for seven years every night, so…”

That’s the thing about talking with Klaus: he’s ventured down so many extreme paths in his life that one often struggles to keep up. What might be a shocking revelation for most people is, for him, just a throwaway.

“Have you ever driven 1,500 kilometres, without any sleep, in the desert?”

he asks at one point. (No, Klaus, I can’t say I ever have.) “I’ve been clinically dead for six hours,” he mentions later, almost in passing. What? Really? And he’s seen a brilliant light, and all the other things we hear about?

“Life after death? Of course, I describe that in my book.”

His life is so crowded that some things don’t even rate a mention.

“I’ve survived so many times,” he says at one point. “The war in Israel, and I was going between the tanks, and…”

he flaps a hand dismissively, not wishing to bore me with trifles:

“These are other stories.”

He was born in 1945, just after the fall of Berlin (his birthday is actually today, May 15), and grew up in Germany, though he’s currently based in French Switzerland. His mother “gave me away” to the evil priest when he was 15, by which time he’d become unmanageable.

“I was revolting against her, because my mother didn’t have love,” he explains. “I had a gang – I mean a robber gang – and we were breaking shops and stuff like that, and made gang wars between each other. I was un-educatable”.

His father left the family when Klaus was a baby, leaving Mum to take care of him and his two brothers – but his mother, he recalls,

“just could not stand me, and I could not stand her… I never had a family. I don’t know what it is to have a family, even nowadays.”

One brother left to join his father; the other stuck it out till adulthood, then fled to America and started a new life. Klaus lost touch with both of them, though he tracked down his dad in Stuttgart years later and was reunited with his brothers.

“I forgave them later,” he asserts. “In the name of Christ it’s possible – otherwise I would kill them”.

And what about his mother? Did he forgive her too?

“I forgave her, but she was so possessed with demons. She was all the time full of demons.”

Real demons, or metaphorical?

“No, no, real demons. She called them, and she was influenced by them. And she was like crazy sometimes, it was terrible living with her.” Violent too? He nods: “She could beat me half to death sometimes. With a metal stick.”

All this rage came out in his gang of teenage hoodlums: they threw rocks, robbed people, even burned a man’s house down.

“I was suffering,” he says now. “I just knew ‘do them bad’, because they did bad to me”.

This was also when Klaus first realised he had power over people.

“I found very quickly that I’m a leader… I just knew when I spoke to people, I was somehow convincing, and they followed me. So [I’d say] ‘Beat this guy up’ and they beat the guy up, you know?”

In his early 20s, having finally escaped the clutches of the priest, he was studying Languages at the University of Tubingen – but was soon seduced by Andreas Baader, who was recruiting students for his “violent movement” aimed at the wholesale destruction of German society. Klaus, full of hatred, was ripe for the picking:

“Police was enemy. Teachers were enemy. Priests were enemy. My mother was enemy. Everybody was enemy”. He pauses: “Because there was no love”.

It wasn’t just violence, he points out; there was idealism there too. “We really believed that we could change the world” – forgetting, he adds, that you first have to change yourself.

“We thought we could do it by drugs and making love, free sex. [But] we ended up in passion instead of in freedom.” In any case, he soon discovered that “violence is not my way” –

and also discovered that drugs only made things worse, amplifying his feelings of alienation instead of resolving them. At one point, he recalls, when he looked around at people

“all their faces became skulls… I projected Death in everybody”.

In any case, by the early 70s he’d “found a better drug: it was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental meditation.”

Thus began his years of spiritual wandering.

“I was an earnest seeker,”

he tells me, though he must’ve seemed like a spiritual tourist, this half-crazy German plunging into one Eastern religion after another. Islam never appealed to him:

“This is law, law and law. It didn’t give me love” – but he spent seven years exploring Hinduism, visiting all the great gurus in India (“I found very quickly they were often fakes,”

he scoffs, “full of pride”), then three more years in Tibet as a Buddhist.

This is also where Klaus’ account of his life veers into claims that some will find incredible, like his description of the powers he wielded during those years – an extension of his old power as a gang leader, honed and perfected by years of meditation.

“I could see people’s thoughts, what people think about”

– not the precise thoughts but the “direction”, which he then manipulated. “I could make myself invisible. I started to hear voices from the beyond. I was a medium”. He had frequent out-of-body experiences. Dead gurus spoke to him, giving audible messages in English.

“I had power. I was in New York and six gangsters wanted to kill me. And when I looked in their eyes, I could bind them. I had the power. When I had eye contact, I could just paralyse them”.

Like hypnosis? It wasn’t hypnosis, he demurs, it was the power of the spirits.

“I looked at people in the eyes, and when they were somehow not sure of themselves, I just got them somehow, I had power over them. Especially, in my case, for girls, of course – because you want to make sex. It’s not love, but it’s a substitute. Better to have substitute than to kill yourself.”

It’s not entirely implausible. Even now, at 66, Klaus cuts a striking figure: thin-faced, dressed in black, with close-cropped silver hair and narrow, unblinking eyes. There’s something compelling in those eyes, even if it’s just a hardness and lack of humour. Didn’t he ever have fun in those decades of wandering? Didn’t he ever just relax, maybe crack a joke? But he shakes his head:

“No, it was lonely, it was very lonely. I was lonely all the time.”

Oddly enough, the person who impressed him most in India was a Christian – a religion he’d definitively abandoned after his years of abuse. That was Mother Teresa, whom he met in Calcutta:

“She was my first mother,”

he says poignantly.

“The first person who had love for me, unlimited love. I thought such a person can not be a Christian – I even tried to convert her to Hinduism!”

Mother Teresa was the first step on the second part of Klaus’ journey – the journey back to Christianity, which of course is why churches invite him to share his experiences. It’s a journey that’s impossible to describe in detail without writing a book about it (as Klaus did), but it does include two crucial events which demand to be mentioned. The first was a miraculous escape in South America, when Klaus was abducted by Colombian rebels – who, realising they could get no ransom for him, decided to shoot him. Lying naked in a muddy ditch with seven rifles pointed at him, Klaus cried:

“God, if You exist, save me now!”

– and, right on cue, another rebel group emerged from the jungle, prompting a shoot-out with the first group and allowing him to flee in the confusion.

That was in 1981, just a few months before the second great miracle – when Jesus actually spoke to him, in a church in Lausanne. “Jesus,” asked despondent Klaus out loud,

“do you want me to come to you or not?”

– and Jesus,

“as clear as you hear me now,” speaking French “in a sweet, indescribable voice”, replied:

“Yes, come. I have forgiven you everything”. “And I was never touched so deeply,” he says quietly, “in my heart, in my being, as in that moment.”

There’s more, of course – much more. That communion with Our Lord was preceded by not one but two exorcisms (the priest in Lausanne insisted) and followed by what he calls a “counter-attack of Satan”. And I haven’t even mentioned all the other things, the miracle in the Syrian desert circa 1971, the George McGovern story, the levitation… I look at Klaus, unsure what to say. You do realise, I ask finally, that when I write this stuff in the paper, people will read it and say –

“Crazy man,” he agrees.

They won’t believe you.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

So what do you say to those people?

“Well, you are right not to believe it,” he replies, “because it sounds incredible. But I can not lie in the name of Christ – because I would condemn myself to Hell. And I lived in Hell. I don’t want to go back there.”

Maybe that’s the crux of it, when it comes to Klaus Kenneth. Mystics will say he found God, psychologists will say he found closure, but the story’s much the same whichever way you want to tell it: the story of a man who was raised without love, coldly and abusively – who “lived in Hell,” as he puts it – wandered for years trying to find inner peace, and finally found it.

It’s a quest for love, as he says again and again. It’s a quest for comradeship, which is doubtless what he found with Father Sophrony. ‘Why not just accept your life?’ I ask. Why even bring religion into it? Why not just accept human nature and say ‘This is life’?

“Because you feel that is not life,” he replies. “It’s a wrong life. That is what society calls life. But inside my heart, when I went to bed after my stories with alcohol, sex and whatever – I felt alone. And that is not life.”