The official translation by the Greek Foreign Ministry of the publication “Awake Sleeper” by HOCNA Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston

The Very. Rev. Abbess Christonymphi of the Sacred Convent of St. Eirini Chrysovalantou, Sydney, Australia, sent us the official translation by the Greek Foreign Ministry of the publication “Awake Sleeper” by HOCNA Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, with the request that we publish it for our Greek language readers. The English original is sold and defended by HOCNA and those in union with HOCNA, although the latter could not be aware of its actual contents until now.

You may download the official scanned translation made by the Greek Foreign Ministry in pdf format by clicking here.

Below is the attached commentary on this publication by the Very Rev. Abbess Christonymphi:


Comments on the Article “Awake Sleeper”
of HOCNA Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston

10/23 June, 2014

The article “Awake Sleeper” by HOCNA Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, whose positions are not Orthodox, has been posted and still circulates in English on the Web. When we noticed the existence of this article, we translated the first part [into Greek], which passed in our hands in its entirety (there is a part of it on the Web), but since this translation was characterised as malicious by certain people who wished the propagation of these un-Orthodox positions, we have given the said article to the Foreign Ministry of Greece for an official translation, which we provide to anyone who wishes to maintain his Orthodox Faith undistorted and to be saved, by accompanying it with some comments. For anyone that has our own translation, they can compare it with the official translation and note the similarity of the two texts, but also the unfair and vicious attack we received then, that we allegedly acted by petty incentives.



The author of this article teaches:
1) That there is repentance in Hades for the idolaters, heretics and in general all the people who have not known Orthodoxy in this life.

2) That Christ will give to all people the opportunity to accept or reject His teaching, whenever this happens, in this life or the next.

3) That the Descent of Christ to Hades has a diachronic character.

In general:
1) He distorts the teaching of the Bible and the Holy Fathers.

2) He uses the lives of the Saints to prove inadmissible things for Orthodoxy.

3) He erroneously interprets the hymns of the Church and the words of the Fathers, by attributing to them meanings that they do not have.

4) He presents as literally factual the descriptive imagery used by Saint Epiphanius highlighted in his sermon on the Descent of Christ to Hades.

5) He makes the exceptions and economia of God as rules of the Church (the case of Trajan and Falconilla).

6) He puts words in the mouths of the Saints which they never said.

7) He presents assumptions as reality or insinuates that they are real events.

On page 20 of his article, page 26 of the translation, he writes:
“It is evident that Falconilla, by the prayers of Saint Thecla, somehow had the capacity to repent of her former idolatry and to espouse the truth of the Christian faith, to which she had never had the opportunity to be exposed in her lifetime. How else could she have been counted worthy of “rest and eternal life” in the Kingdom of God?”
With these words he shows that Falconilla was saved through her repentance. The weight of Falconilla’s salvation, he places on the repentance of Falconilla, not on the mercy of God through the prayer of Saint Thecla. By this way, Metropolitan Ephraim teaches repentance in Hades. Falconilla was freely saved by the prayers of the Saint and the mercy of God, not by her repentance.

On page 22 of his article, page 28 of the translation, he writes:
“… as Saint Ephraim the Syrian might have said in his Hymns of Paradise, the account is trying to tell us that Dinocrates was counted worthy of some measure of Paradise, according to his capacity.”
a) If Saint Ephraim the Syrian would have ever said that or not, we do not know.
b) Dinocrates did not claim anything according to his ability as is stated. What ability did he have especially being dead? His salvation was due, as in the case of Falconilla, to the mercy of God, through the prayer of his sister, not to his ability. In these descriptions the mercy of God is accentuated, as well as the value and the power of the prayer of His Saints, not the ability for someone to repent in Hades. There is no repentance in Hades as Metropolitan Ephraim means it. In Hades everyone is repentant but this repentance does not save.

On the same page of his article, page 29 of the translation, he writes:
“It appears the Church felt that, by the prayers of the Saints, God, in His mercy, would extend an opportunity to people to believe in Him even after their repose, and be spared from Hades,” which is out of place, because after His resurrection Christ never gave the opportunity to the people to believe in Him after their repose and to be freed from Hades. In Hades everyone that has not believed in the true God during this life, will believe, but their faith is not going to save them.

On page 23 of his article, page 29 of the translation, he mentions:
“This was because the Church Fathers, it seems, believed that Christ’s Descent into Hades had the quality of timelessness to it,….”. Where is it based that the Descent of Christ to Hades had a diachronic character? On an assumption? On “it seems”? Such a serious matter will be based on assumptions?

On page 24 of his article, page 30 of the translation, he writes:
that Saint Gregory the Dialogist heard a voice from God which told him: “I have heard your prayer and I grant forgiveness to Trajan. But you should not again put forward prayers addressed to Me on behalf of pagans.” Metropolitan Ephraim should have particularly noted these words. The forgiveness that was given to Trajan was due, besides to the mercy of God, to the prayer of the Saint, not to the repentance of Trajan.
In the footnote he writes that Saint Gregory the Dialogist “may have” commemorated Trajan in the Offering, during the Liturgy of the Faithful. Again, he speaks hypothetically and he presents the assumptions as real events, or he lets them be understood as reality. He says that Saint Gregory the Dialogist “may have” commemorated Trajan in the Offering. How can we know if he was commemorating him or not? With a “may”? Did the Church Fathers ever use “may” this or “may” that to prove what they were saying?

On page 26 of his article, page 34 of the translation he writes:
about Christ “…so also did He give this authority to the Saints to call, by their prayers, the errant souls in Hades to repentance, so that they might believe and – if they chose rightly – be delivered from their suffering.” Do the Saints really call the souls in Hades to repentance with their prayers? What kind of teaching is this? Where was this ever heard of before? Did Archbishop Makarios examine this belief of HOCNA that accepts these tenets and then rushed to concelebrate with them in America and in Greece? Those who concelebrated with them, had they not heard anything about this matter and concelebrated?
At the end of this page, to support that God gave the authority to the Saints to call the souls in Hades to repentance with their prayers, he writes: “As Orthodox Christians, we must be aware that this is what the Church has taught and believed for centuries.” Oh really? These are what the Church teaches? These are what the Church believed for centuries? Does Metropolitan Ephraim make his own deceived teachings, the teachings of the Church?

On page 35 of his article, pages 45-46 of the translation he writes:
“By adopting the preaching of Christ, even though after death.” Can man adopt the teaching of Christ after death and be saved? Is this an Orthodox teaching?

By mentioning on page 37 of his article, page 49 of the translation that:
“…the Orthodox Church does not teach that pagans and the like are necessarily damned,…”, what does he mean? That they are saved? With these words he extends salvation not only to just the heterodox, but even to non-Christians. Ecumenism teaches the same thing.

On page 43 of his article, page 57 of the translation he repeats:
that everyone will be given the opportunity, either in this life or in the next to know Orthodoxy, and if they accept it they will be saved. On the same page he writes: “To these questions, the Holy Fathers answered in different ways,…” In the questions that concerned the salvation of the non-Orthodox, did the Fathers really answer in different ways? Why does he not mention these ways? By continuing to justify the unjustified he writes: “…and the same Father sometimes gave a different answer, depending, perhaps, on the people he was addressing.” Again, he uses hypothetical speech and he does not mention which Father, about what specific issue, where, when and to whom he gave a different answer about the same issue.

On the same page he mentions: “In general terms, it may be said that the Eastern Fathers tended to be more optimistic about who accepted our Saviour’s preaching in Hades, ”. He does not specify when. At the time when the Descent of Christ to Hades took place, or, according to his personal views, later? If he means later, the Holy Fathers never tended to what he says.

He mentions about the Hawaiians and everyone in general who have not heard the Orthodox Christian teaching in this life, that God will give them the opportunity to become acquainted with it in Hades. Let him read the life of Saint Christina, to see that God does not wait to teach the well-intentioned in Hades, but He even sends an angel to teach them in this life. These theories about a teaching in Hades are wrong. If what he says is true, why, as we see in the Acts of the Apostles, did God send Apostle Phillip to catechise and baptise the Ethiopian eunuch superior officer and courtier Kandakis of the queen of the Ethiopians, instead of letting him learn about the Orthodox preaching after his death, in Hades, and embrace or reject the Orthodoxy then?

What are these things that Metropolitan Ephraim mentions and traffics for years now on the Web to deceive so many people? Archbishop Makarios, when I personally spoke to him in order to express my concerns, said that Metropolitan Ephraim wanted to reassure those who were worried about their non-Orthodox relatives and friends, because his congregation consists of 80% American converts. With what would he reassure them? With a lie? Instead of telling them the truth to wake them up, he put them to sleep. His Beatitude agreed with him and tried to justify him to the [Greek] clergy and laity by saying, as mentioned in this publication about the Salvation of the non-Orthodox, that they will become acquainted with Orthodoxy in Hades and if they accept it they will be saved, but if they reject it they will remain in Hades, are not referred to the Traditional Orthodox but only to converts? Different things are valid for the Traditional Orthodox and different things for converts? Are the views represented and preached by Archbishop Makarios Orthodox views? From the attendees of the clergy-laity gathering, which Archbishop Makarios organised, wasn’t there anyone found to protest? Did everyone actually agree with him?
On page 45 of his article, page 59 of the translation he mentions:
the case of the two young girls who were sold, one to a holy virgin and the other to a dancer, and after mentioning all the relevant details he concludes on page 60 of the translation: “Wherefore, man can know nothing about the judgment of God.” Man does know what God has revealed to him, and what God has revealed is, he who does not know and violates the law of God will be punished less than he who knows and does not act. Did Christ say anywhere that he who does not know in this life will then have the opportunity to know in the next and make a choice [i.e., heaven or hell]?

On page 46 of this article, page 61 of the translation he writes:
that Saint John Chrysostom said in his sermon about the Cemetery and Cross that Christ bound the chief etc. “…and transferred their treasures, that is, the entire human race, to the royal treasury…”. That is how he transferred it, without any conditions? Without any requirements? Did He transfer everyone? Even Judas? Unfortunately, in this article the Church Fathers are interpreted according to the opinion of the author of the publication, and they do not correspond to the Orthodox teaching.

For the Hawaiians and everyone, in general, who do not know or have never heard about Christ in this life, the same applies as with Saint Christina. If they had good intentions, God would find a way to teach them, as he taught Saint Christina. The rest are fairy tales that do not honour a metropolitan. As a bishop, he does not have the right to fall outside Orthodox teaching. He must be the mouthpiece of the divine truths he promised to express. Every teaching opposing the teaching of Christ and His commandments is heresy. Christ has founded His Church on the true, from the dogmatic point of view, Confession of Faith.

On page 48 his article, page 64 of the translation he says:
“Certainly, after death, there is no change in man’s character” but then he says that there is for those who have not heard the Gospel for as long as they were alive. He contradicts himself. There is not for the Orthodox, but there is for the non-Orthodox?

By wrongly interpreting the hymnology of the Church and the Holy Fathers, he advocates that the hymnology of the Church and the writings of the Holy Fathers provide the same potentiality (if not the possibility) to those who came after Christ to believe in Hades, like those before Christ (page 49 of his article, page 65 of the translation).

In a six-page letter to Archbishop Makarios, he claims that concerning the salvation of the non-Orthodox mentioned in “Awake Sleeper,” that an opportunity will be given to them in Hades to become acquainted with Orthodoxy and if they accept it they will be saved, but if they reject it they will remain in Hades, constitutes a theological point of view [theologoumenon]. How does this constitute a theological point of view, when in “Awake Sleeper” he mentions on page 42 of his article, page 56 of the translation, that the Church Fathers say that, in order to judge humanity fairly, our Saviour will give to every man who ever lived on earth the opportunity to espouse or reject His teaching, whether this occurs while a man lives, or [after death] in Hades, wherever this occurs? If (according to Metropolitan Ephraim) that is what the Fathers believe, this opinion is not theological but constitutes a condition of Faith. Again, if, as Metropolitan Ephraim states in his letter, he moved “in the framework of two known teachings of the Church, according to which on the one hand,

a) there is no repentance in Hades and, on the other hand,
b) there is no salvation apart from the Church,”

how is it possible that the indisputable truth in these teachings be simultaneously a theological issue in “Awake Sleeper”? The spreading of the preaching of Christ in Hades after His Resurrection has been rejected, and this rejection constitutes a dogmatic truth. Any other theological opinion about this constitutes a malicious intervention and dangerous misinterpretations. If there was a spreading of the preaching, there would, also, be repentance in Hades. Since there is no repentance in Hades, there is neither a spreading of the preaching. There, certainly, is a realisation of events, and lamentation except without benefit.

By Very Rev. Abbess Christonymphe
Sacred Convent of Saint Eirini Chrysovalantou
Sydney, Australia