East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 2, No. 3, Summer 1994, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe

A Summary of Trifa's What is the Army of the Lord?

Tom Keppeler

Iosef Trifa, a Romanian Orthodox priest, founded Oastea Domnului (Army of the Lord) in  1922.  This spiritual and moral renewal movement gained steady strength even through 40 years of communist rule in Romania.  Today, Army of the Lord faces new challenges as a legal religious association in a chaotic and changing nation.

In 1934, three years before his death, Trifa published Ce Este Oastea Domnului? (What is the Army of the Lord?), which outlines the purpose and strategy behind the movement.  Four key themes stand out in this foundational text.

Trifa also commends five specific means of evangelism:  1) the daily life of a Christian, which he defines as the best sermon; 2) acts of mercy; 3) love and prayer; 4) forgiveness and suffering; and 5) the distribution of Christian literature.  Trifa's silence on the role of liturgy, the church, and icons in salvation and spirituality help to explain the controversy surrounding his writings and the movement he founded.  Rather than the traditional Orthodox emphasis upon mystical union with God, he expresses his understanding of salvation and witness in language more commonly associated with Western Protestantism.

His ideas, in fact, became so objectionable to the hierarchy of the Romanian Orthodox Church that he was excommunicated in 1936.  However, Trifa's legacy lives on as Army of the Lord continues to define its mission within the Romanian Orthodox Church and within Romanian society as a whole. 

Tom Keppeler, "A Summary of Trifa's What is the Army of the Lord?" East-West Church & Ministry Report, 2 (Summer 1994), 8.

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1994 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
ISSN 1069-5664

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