Manifest Destiny

Versus the true evangelization of the First Nations

Manifest destiny was the belief that the United States god-given right was to spread westward from sea to shining sea, spreading American beliefs across the continent. As we all know, the First Nations tribes (Indians) were seen as heathen, and fair game for the advancing peoples of European ancestry. Whole tribes were wiped from the face of the map, either by being slaughtered, or succumbing to white man’s diseases, for which they had no natural immunity. For those natives who were “lucky enough” to survive the occupation of their lands, relocation by force to reservations, was the norm.

The “Christian” basis for this expansion had as it’s roots the Calvinist doctrine of “Predestination,” a false and horrid teaching that some were predestined to salvation, while others were not. The natural link between the two doctrines is obvious.

By contrast, the Orthodox missionary monks to Alaska journeyed under strict orders from the Patriarch and the Czar, to respect the First Nations religion, culture, and peoples. They were under direct orders to avoid baptizing the natives, unless they sought to convert, and then only after they were fully catechized. The missionary monks befriended the natives, even to the point of protecting them from Russian fur traders, who mistreated them. They learned the native languages, and respected the local culture.

To this day, Alaska’s Orthodox natives see Orthodoxy as their native religion, because the love and kindness shown them by the Orthodox monks helped them see Christianity as the fulfillment of their own religion.

This has been the Orthodox way of evangelism from the earliest of times. Some have accused we Orthodox of not being missionary minded, not seeing that our missionary efforts are simply different than that of the west. We believe that God transforms hearts, so we, in turn, share our faith by loving those whom we wish to convert. Our evangelism is based in the heart, where love reigns.

The God we Orthodox Christians worship, is the God of love and mercy, and the only way to bring others into a relationship with this God, is to love them into God’s Kingdom. We don’t pronounce them as heathen, who are destined to hellfire, but God’s children, created in His image and likeness. We invite them into the Church as our brothers and sisters, because we love them, and desire that they not only have God as their Father, but the Church as their Mother.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Tuesday May 26, 2020 / May 13, 2020
Sixth Week of Pascha. Tone five.
Virgin-martyr Glyceria at Heraclea (141) and with her Martyr Laodicius, jailer of St. Glyceria.
New Hieromartyrs Basil, Alexander and Christopher, Hieromartyr Macarius and Martyr Sergius (1922).
103 New Hieromartyrs of Cherkassk (20th c.).
Righteous Virgin Glyceria of Novgorod (1522).
Translation of the relics of St. Macarius, archimandrite of Obruch or Kanev (1678).
Martyr Alexander of Rome (298).
St. Pausicacius, bishop of Synnada (606).
St. George the Confessor of Constantinople, with his wife and children (ca. 842).
Venerable Euthymius of Athos the translator (1028) (Georgia).
Venerables Amphilochius (1452), Macarius (1462), and Tarasius(1440), abbots, and Theodosius (15 c.), monk, of Glushitsa Monastery (Vologda).
St. Servatius, first bishop of Maastricht (384).
Martyrs killed by the Latins at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos (Georgia).
Monkmartyr John of the Iveron Monastery on Mt Athos (Greek).
St. Sergius the Confessor of Constantinople (9th c.) (Greek).
Venerable Nicephorus, priest of the monastery of Ephapsios (Greek).
Hieromartyr Alexander of Tiverias. (Greek).
St. Leander of Seville (600).

The Scripture Readings

Acts 17:19-28

19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

Addressing the Areopagus

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:


Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

John 12:19-36

19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”

The Fruitful Grain of Wheat

20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you,unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Jesus Predicts His Death on the Cross

27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”

30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

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. Dear Abbot Tryphon, you shared a special prayer for Covid victims and patients a few weeks ago when this all started. Would you be able to send it to me again if its not too much trouble. Thank you and please don’t worry if its not possible. Thank you. A parishioner of the Chicago area.

      A Prayer to be Offered in the Morning
      O Lord our God, Thou who art rich in mercy and with careful
      wisdom directs our lives, hearken unto our prayer, receive our
      repentance for our sins, bring to an end this new infectious
      pestilence, just as Thou lifted the punishment of Thy people in the
      time of David the King. Thou Who art the Physician of our souls
      and bodies, grant restored health to those who have been stricken by
      pestilence, raising them up from their beds of suffering, so that they
      might glorify Thee, O merciful Savior, and preserve those that are
      yet in health. By Thy Grace, O Lord, bless, strengthen, and
      preserve all those that in love and sacrifice care for the sick,
      whether in their homes or in hospitals. Lift sickness and suffering
      from Thy people, and teach us to value life and health as gifts from
      Thee. Grant us Thy peace, O God, and fill our hearts with
      unflinching faith in Thy protection, hope in Thy help, and love for
      Thee and our neighbor. For Thine it is to have mercy on us and to
      save us, O our God, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the
      Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever,
      and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

  2. I enjoyed your comment about the Native relating to the Orthodox and I believe too, it is because of the love for family, community, nature and prayer. Important values and virtues both have cherished and strived all their life to hold on to.

    God bless! take care & keep safe…..

  3. Manifest Destiny is the basis today for the idea of American Exceptionalism. The Indispensable Nation in this view has the right to begin wars of aggression anywhere in the world, to be the world’s policeman. The coronavirus has shown how vulnerable the American Empire truly is. It is beginning to unravel. Prepare for a wild ride.

  4. I can remember in grade school, the nuns referring to non Christians and especially those in Africa as pagans. We were to collect donations for the salvation of “pagan” babies. So, we are not to far distant from that mindset.

  5. Father, do you know if Orthodox has dogma regarding separation of church and state?

    I converted to orthodoxy 2 1/2 years ago and feel it has changed my life. I have been following your blog for two years. I thank God for the work he has given you to do.


    1. Prior the the Soviet period, the Church and the Royal government were seen as two parts of the State. Same during the Byzantine period before the conquest by the Islamists.

  6. We have been watching lectures on the Bellevue College Channel. Some deal with exploration in Alaska. Fr. Ivan Veniaminov (St. Innocent) come out looking the best of any Christian missionary in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. French Jesuits come out looking good as well. The French adopted a “When in Rome… “tactic and went native to a large extent. Missionary work was a novel impulse among Protestants at this time and may be an offshoot of one of their Great Awakenings in the U.S. The only time Protestants were effective would be when converted natives took part in evangelization. The Hudson Bay Company was not interested in converting Indians. It would have preferred them uneducated…but England at the time was very Christian and Queen Victoria wanted there to be a missionary aspect to this commercial endeavour. The end result of all this was to take away the hunter/gatherer livelihood of the natives and condemn them to poverty.
    A New York journalist coined the frase “Manifest Destiny” but I don’t think it had a religious connotation, more territorial. After fur trappers, there followed corporate interests. Missionaries formerd an unwitting advance guard (having naive ideas of the natives and insurmountable cultural differences) for further settlement which was stimulated by the Panic of 1837 and subsequent gold rushes.

    1. Regarding the origins of “Manifest Destiny”, it certainly did not originate in some protestant church, but the roots are in the Calvinist image of Predestination, which had a huge influence on the American protestant thinking, ultimately leading to the idea that those “pagan Indians” were not worth respecting.

  7. This is such an illuminating post. There are many things in ‘Christian’ history that are deeply disturbing, and make it understandable when people cast it off completely for the pain it inflicted and the love it lacked. I used to think it didn’t matter what religion you were as long as you had faith. After conversion I didn’t think it mattered what kind of Christian you were so long as you believed in Jesus. But it does matter so much. Love doesn’t seek to conquer and enslave. If it is real it draws what it loves into itself of its own volition. Orthodoxy protects that love- with respect and humility- as well as reason and rules and a beautiful heroic history. Thank you for being an emblem of that love for us.

  8. Beautifully said, explained on the Orthodox missionary approach. I hold great respect towards the American natives! I lived among them in my youth in the northern part of the Province of Quebec. I learned a lot from the Algonquins and the Iroquois – their respect of nature, wildlife preservation and honor.

  9. On a light note, I just love that photo, first for the joy on your face Father Tryphon and again for the sweet little donkey – one of my favorite animals. I second everything Rose said in her response to the content of your post.

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