Apostolic Doctrine

Just whose recipe is it anyway?

One of the most powerful reasons for embracing Orthodoxy is to be found in the Church’s insistence that she holds to the evangelical and apostolic doctrine of the Ancient Church. In an age when everything is up for change, there is a certain security and stability when one institution (the Church) stands firm in her Apostolic Authority, and refuses to allow popular culture or political correctness to influence her rightful God-appointed mission as hospital for the soul.

Saint Leo the Great tells us, “It is not lawful to differ even by a single word from the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, or to think otherwise than as the blessed Apostles and our fathers learned and taught concerning the Holy Scriptures.”

We know from the very foundations of the Church, set down in the Gospels, and in the Apostolic Canons, that the Church exists, not to judge, but to bring healing. Her mission is to make whole those who would enter into her gates, as entering into a hospital. She forces no one, for one who is forced is not open to healing. Yet the Church is also aware that sin is not really a private matter, for all sin affects everyone. She knows that even private sins have an effect on the whole of the cosmos. Therefore, the Church continues, as she has from ancient times, to give witness to the commandments of God, the hope that is found in the Gospel of Christ, and the forgiveness and healing that can lead to wholeness.

The Church may seem to some to be a backward looking institution, irrelevant for our times, a view that has caused many of the denominations to alter basic foundational teachings in order to please a more liberally leaning society. This has led numerous of the denominations to allow passing intellectual fashions to dictate the spirit behind new laws they decide on, leading these religious institutions to ordain women as clergy, perform same sex marriages, and bow down to modern views on abortion that have lead to the death of thousands of innocents.

As an Orthodox monk who stands out in appearance, what with my long white beard and black robe, I demonstrate that I am attempting to live a faith that is not of this world. Like all Orthodox clergy, I teach by my presence in a modern and fallen world, that my faith is an ancient one, and that change is not necessary, for the faith of our fathers is just as relevant today, as it was two thousand years ago. What the Church has to offer today, is just as effective in bringing about the healing of the soul, as in ancient times.

The sad state of American Christianity has as its basis, a constant attempt to conform to an ever changing society, and with each change, there is less and less of authentic, ancient Christianity to be seen. It could be compared to using an old family cake recipe, dropping one ingredient, or changing another, with each passing generation. In the end, is it really a Great-great Grandmother’s cake recipe, or is it something else?

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Tuesday May 5, 2020 / April 22, 2020
Third Week of Pascha. Tone two.
Venerable Theodore the Sykeote, bishop of Anastasiopolis (613).
New Hieromartyr Eustaphius priest (1918).
Hieromartyr Platon of Banja Luka (1941).
Martyr Demetrius (1942).
Apostles Nathaniel, Luke, and Clement.
Translation of the relics of St. Vsevolod (in holy baptism Gabriel), prince and wonderworker of Pskov (1138).
Venerable Vitalis of the monastery of Abba Serid (Seridos) at Gaza (609-620).
Martyr Epipodius of Lyons (177) (Gaul).
Martyr Leonidas of Alexandria (202).
Martyr Nearchus (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Acts 8:5-17

5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.

The Sorcerer’s Profession of Faith

9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his [d]sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

The Sorcerer’s Sin

14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

John 6:27-33

27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you,because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”

32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. Glory to God! Thank you, Father. This is a beautiful and timely post. I especially love the recipe analogy. In fact I had written a similar analogy to share with a Protestant friend who was asking about, “why we worry so much about traditions.” I will paste it here with your blessing.

    The Church – an allegory

    There was once a woman who made wonderfully delicious pies. When she had children she passed on how to make the pies. It was more than just a recipe but an entire experience that made the pies so wonderful. For if you hadn’t participated in the making of the pie you might, in fact, be mistaken in thinking they were only average tasting pies.

    As her children grew and had children of their own they traditioned the whole of the pie making. Laying out certain elements the night before. Rising early in the morning the day of the pie baking. Inspection of eggs with candles. Tasting key ingredients along the way. Drinking coffee and relaxing in conversation while the pie bakes. And all the rest.

    This tradition went on for the 3rd and 4th generations… passing on the fullness of the pie baking and every generation of children knew by participation just how wonderful the pies were and could each replicate it all by a very young age. In fact it wasn’t until the 7th generation that anyone even wrote the recipe down on a card. Simply to keep the specifics of ingredients. But the ritual and process was still kept.

    In the following generations there were some cousins who began to impose stricter rules in the pie baking. Ingredients must be bought from certain stores, they said. You must start at 7:00 am, no earlier or later. Your coffee should be brewed before beginning to mix the ingredients and your talks while the pie bakes should never be about world events or politics. It wasn’t long before the children raised with these more stringent regulations began to rebel.

    In the 11th generation a set of descendants questioned all these “rules” and proclaimed that they were going to merely use the “recipe only!” Doing away with any of the other “cousin added embellishments” from the previous generations they wanted to return to the core of the pie making. Keeping it pure from things that had no relevance to how good or bad the pies tasted.

    Soon, however, one set of cousins disputed with another about what the recipe said or meant. Some of the language that had been written years before didn’t translate now and words like “fresh” and “real” were disputed. So that each family believed they themselves were truly following the recipe correctly.

    What if one of these distant cousins met a family member from another land who had kept the original pattern of making the pies? Who hadn’t ever added in all the rules but who had still done all the things that the original woman had passed on to her first children? What if they participated in those traditions? Wouldn’t the recipe suddenly mean MORE to them? Wouldn’t they experience a FULLNESS of what the pie baking could be? SHOULD be!

    This is the Orthodox Church. It was never corrupted by the additions of the “cousins” of Rome. Nor was it reduced by the over corrections of the “reformers”. But it kept true to what was begun in fullness and thus makes the Bible even MORE… in fullness and truth.

  2. “I have come to heal the sick” – Jesus said.

    The Orthodox Church is not lukewarm in any way and yet maintains the original teachings of Christ and His Apostles.

    God bless! Take care & keep safe…..

  3. Thank you Father Tryphon for this post and all that you do to share the Ancient Faith.
    May the Good Lord grant you a long life so we can continually be reminded of the many blessings we can receive from the Orthodox Faith, if we follow in the footsteps of the Saints.

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