Father Themi’s Damascus Road Experience: From Neo-Marxism to Hinduism to Christ

Father Themi-I Needed The Metaphysical

Father Themistoclese Athony Adamopoulo, “Father Themi,” is a Greek Orthodox priest. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Australia, but was looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. At one point he was a neo-Marxist, at another stage a rock star, (founding member of the 1960s Australian rock-n-roll band The Flies), on another level an academic with a PhD from Brown University and a Master of Theology from Princeton Divinity School, but then he had a radical encounter with God. He had a Damascus road experience, and as a result of that he has given up everything to serve the poor.

Hank Hanegraaff invited Father Themi to be a guest on the March 14, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast. The following are some highlights of their conversation.

Hank Hanegraaff: Today over twenty thousand people die of hunger each and every day. Half the world’s population lives on under $2 a day. This is an issue that we need to be conversant with because we are called to give the cup of cold water, the piece of bread, in the name of Jesus Christ so that we can bring the life of Jesus Christ to the poor and the downtrodden. Father Themi has moved to Sierra Leone, one of the poorest places on earth and there he is making a difference for time and for eternity. I am delighted Father Themi to have you on the broadcast today.

Father Themi Adamopulo: Hello, I’m absolutely honored to be here and to be with you. I heard so much about you. It’s an absolute honor to be with you. Thank you for your very kind invitation.

Hank: Again, delighted to have you on the broadcast. Talk a little bit about your background. You were born in Northern Africa, in Egypt, and born into a Greek Orthodox family?

Father Themi: Well, nominally, I was Orthodox Christian, baptized in Alexandria, which is one of the historical—those who know in church history will understand what I mean when I say that it is one of the great early Christian centers. But it meant nothing to me. I was not a believer. Most of my infancy and early childhood and moving onto my teenage years, having moved over to Australia, a secular society, I had no faith at all. I did not believe in God. In fact, during my university days, I was a convinced neo-Marxist, as opposed to classical Marxism, and Neo-Marxism being the assimilation and the fusion between classical Marxism, Freudianism, Marcusenism, and all kinds of isms to make classical Marxism more applicable to today’s historical events, such as the Chinese Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and so forth. So, I believed in that in my university student days. We looked upon Marxism as the solution to the great injustices that were going on at the time—the issue of poverty, the issue of get now more, the issue of women’s rights, even the environment—all these issues were there, and it seemed to me that Marxism had the answer.

God for a Marxist is the antithesis of progress. The whole concept of a supernatural world, the whole concept of a metaphysical world, is very much opposed to the strict letter of law of Marxism. It is the opiate of the people. Christianity according to Marx is the means by which the capitalist class will as it were employ to subdue the working class and to let them believe in some mythical concept that after death they will achieve eternal life. That, therefore, becomes the tool of the capitalist to oppress the worker with the consolation that “Well you are going to the afterlife world, I will not, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy this all here, and you will have to suffer.” So that’s basically in a nutshell Marxism.

So, we were all quite happy until something happened. What happened was that we were following our gurus of the period. The avatars were the Beatles—particularly John Lennon, who we saw as being the intellectual Beatle, George Harrison the spiritual Beatle—Bob Dylan, of course, and some of the other spokesmen of the period. They were the acceptable voice of the youth of the 60s and 70s—the early 70s. One day the Beatles said that were going to India to seek metaphysical enlightenment, and we all thought wait a minute, they’re betraying the revolution. They’re going counter to everything that dialectical materialism—the idea that the revolution will only occur through the struggle of the proletariat, the working class, against the bourgeois, the capitalist class. What’s this about going to India to seek enlightenment? We don’t understand that? I mean that was just, as you Americans would say, “left field,” is that? It was absolutely “left field.” We were amazed because it was John Lennon who said it, and because it was George Harrison who said it, well maybe we need to look into this, right? So begins a kind of a revision of Marxism among the student population now, and a possibility, a very important possibility, that maybe the answer is not just dialectical materialism, historical materialism, but it could be that there is something supernatural going on. Now that was an amazing admission to make because we were very logical, very empirical, very rational, we were the product of five hundred years of the age of reason, the age of enlightenment, we thought we have gone beyond the age of God, we had gone way past Christianity, at which we saw according to Nietzsche, I’m sure you read him, the uberman [Übermensch], the superman, the self-fulfilled man does not rely on any other external being but relies on himself and his own will to achieve that which is his to achieve, we believed all that. We read all that.

Now we’re told by Mr. Lennon and Mr. Harrison that perhaps we should seek beyond metarealism into the world of the metaphysical. My goodness that contradicted Bertrand Russell that was an extraordinary contradiction, but it was John Lennon, and so we needed to investigate further. So that’s what I did. I went into ashrams, I went into Hare Krishna temples, I went into guru led classes, we even had American Richard Alpert come from the United States, called himself Dam Rass [Ram Dass], or something like that, a great man, a great man. We listened to all this and we came to the conclusion, some of us, that Marxism wasn’t enough that there was something beyond the material, and there was something transcendent from pure material history, the economic factor of history, which is pure Marxism.

To make a long story short, once I went to one of the ashrams, this is in Australia, and the guru who claimed to represent no less than a fourteen year old child who is god, that fourteen year old Indian child, young man, was claimed to be god. We were curious to find out more about him so I went in there and the guru comes around and taps us on the forehead—receiving knowledge, receive knowledge, receive wisdom, receive. He came to me, at the time, we were all squatting in the traditional lotus position, etc. and I think I was wearing my Che Guevara hat and my Led Zeppelin cross something, and he asked me—oh Black Sabbath, sorry they used to wear crosses, so I wore a cross, Black Sabbath wore a cross—so he asked me to remove the cross, and I thought “What?” He said, “You have to remove the cross.” I said to myself I was not a Christian right, and I thought “How curious that this wise man, how curious that this devote of the avatar would be confounded by a fashion statement?” That’s all it was for me., just a fashion statement, you know. And he said, “Well, you must remove it.” I said, “You know what, I’m not going to remove it.” I actually contradicted and stood up and said, “I’m not going to remove it,” not because of anything of a faith which I did not have, but it was something inside of me telling me this cross is disturbing him. This cross has something that is to be investigated. So I left. I did not go on with the meditation and the road to wisdom according to their principles, you see. Having left I began to ponder on this issue of Christianity.

I think God was gracious enough to—what I am about to tell you now may sound strange and inconceivable, and illogical, which it is, in many ways. It is that. I needed that. I needed the illogicability of the metaphysical. I needed the inconceivable of the metaphysical. I needed that contradiction of the material life of the material reality for me to be able to release myself and to be able to accept the existence of God—so the Lord was merciful to me, and He gave me what can be described at least from my tradition, the Orthodox Church tradition and the monastic tradition, as a mystical experience.

Now I’m the last man in the world that should be getting mystical experiences, you know, trained in universities steeped in the empirical world, steep in the world of reason, steep in Greek philosophy, Aristotle, steep in everything that contradicts the metaphysical from childhood, and yet there it was. It was inexplicable, it was confrontational, it was radical, it was compelling, it was nonnegotiable, and I accepted it as my Damascus road experience. That was it, I accepted Christ. Nobody led me to Christ. There was no evangelical preacher who came to me. There was no priest who came to me. There was nobody who came to me with the Bible and said, “You must accept Jesus,” this came on its own without my wanting it to occur and it happened. From that, and there was a series of mystical experiences, I believed in Jesus. I believed in the existence of God. There was no doubting it anymore. I saw it. I saw it.

Unfortunately, in my case, it is because of my lack of faith that it had to happen that way. It doesn’t have to happen that way. It can happen in many ways, you know, but because of my being immersed in the world of reason, the world of logic, the world of rationality, there was no other way to jolt me out. God knows. God knows. That was the only way that I would have walked into the life of Christ. There was no other way. In His wisdom, that’s how He chose to bring me. That’s it, I never looked back ever since. That happened when I was twenty-two-twenty-three, and it saved me from so much blindness, walking in the wrong way, sin, and temptation, you name it.