10 Essential Conditions for Coming to Know God’s Truth and Finding Life. By Fr. Tom Hopko

  1. The belief that the truth of things can be known, and the desire to know the truth and to do it, wherever it leads, is most essential. Indeed it is everything. When people have this desire and seek truth in order to do it, and are ready to do it whatever it takes to find it, know it and do it, God promises that they will find, and understand and live. In a sense, this desire and seeking is all that is necessary.
  2. The seeking person must read the New Testament through, slowly and without judgment of details, at least two or three times, taking the time needed to do this. They should let go of what is not clear, and focus on what they can understand, what is clear to them. It would also be helpful to read a Psalm or two everyday.
  3. The person must pray, as they can. If they claim to be Christian, at least somehow, they should say the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers of the Church tradition, and attend Liturgical services, without serving or singing or reading. If they are not Christians, or are unsure, they must at least pray, “to whom it may concern,” saying something like, “if you are there, teach me, lead me, guide me…”
  4. The person must eat good foods in moderation. A couple of days a week (like Wed and Fri) the person should fast; eating much less than usual. During this search the person should abstain from all alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Except a minimal amount of wine with meals. If overeating or drinking, smoking or drug-taking is a problem, the seeker must get formal help, like, for example, a 12 step program.
  5. The person should abstain from all sexual activity unless they are married and expressing love (and not just having sex). There should be no TV or Internet porn. If sex is an addictive problem, they must take steps to get formal help.
  6. The person should sit alone and still in silence for at least a half hour each day. They should watch their thoughts, but not engage them. They should say a very short prayer while doing them, to avoid engaging their thoughts.
  7. The person should give at least a couple of hours a week to charitable work, and should give away some of their money (if they can) in a sacrificial way. They should do this, as far as possible, without anyone knowing what they are doing.
  8. The person should open their life fully to at least one other trustworthy person, telling absolutely everything, without editing or hiding anything: their thoughts, dreams, temptations, actions, sins, fears, anxieties, etc.
  9. The person must regularly talk with someone trustworthy specifically about their family of origin: their family history going back as far as possible, their childhood, relations with their parents and grandparents and siblings, their spiritual and religious history, their sexual history, education, etc.
  10. The person must find a community of friends with whom to struggle to know the truth and to find life. The search cannot be done alone. We need each other.


Filed under Orthodox Christianity

5 responses to “10 Essential Conditions for Coming to Know God’s Truth and Finding Life. By Fr. Tom Hopko

  1. Thanks! That is all really good stuff. I might take issue on the 12 step program, unless it is pastoraly monitored. I have seen far too many people lean on AA and NA rather than on the Church.

    • Fr. James Coles

      I have found that when someone comes and confesses addiction to drugs, alcohol or sex that confession is often not enough medicine. 12 step programs are successful primarily because the addict must admit that they are unable to simply change and that they need God. Those programs in conjunction with the therapy that Christ offers in the sacraments are the sweet spot. At least from what I have seen.

      • I had a conversation with someone on this recently. I see AA as psychologically Christian, meaning, the psychological aspect of the gospel has been extracted leaving the glory of Christ behind. The Holy Trinity is shunned from the program. Does it work? To a certain extent. It serves as a fellowship, which idealy should be had from the Church, where the Trinity can be glorified and fellowship can be had with Him and His people.

        Confession and the Eucharist can be the begining point of delivering these types; meaning, it has to pan itself into constant discipleship, almost daily in some cases. The priest can start the process with these sacraments and pass it to his deacons/leaders to follow up on. This is how it works in the Evangelical churches. Kristi and I just passed “The Mission” church this evening and they had a “Celebrate Recovery” sign posted in front of the Church. That is essentially the 12 steps but within the context of Christ, yet without the sacraments. Think of the impact of the communnity if the Orthodox Church/sacraments were included in these ministries. Whoa! The Orthodox Church would explode!

  2. Lenore

    Can you explain #9 in more detail?

  3. Pingback: 10 Essential Conditions for Coming to Know God’s Truth and Finding Life « † Pick it up!

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