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?
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
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.
- "Christ the crucified" stands as the core principle in Army of the
Lord teaching. The cross is the door to salvation and the key to
victory over temptation and sin.
The struggle against sin and the importance of living righteous lives
comes through a true understanding of Christ's victory on the
cross. Trifa writes that the sign of the cross "has the power to
drive away Satan only when we put it in the understanding of the
sacrifice of the cross, especially as we receive the gift of the
sacrifice, Jesus the Savior and his victory."
Personal moral and ethical renewal come through personally encountering
Christ at the cross. Trifa emphasizes the receiving of Jesus and
His gifts, the need for the church to wage war against sin and evil,
regular Bible study as a foundation for personal piety, and alcohol
consumption as a sin which curses not only individuals but whole
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
Army of the Lord exists through lay and voluntary involvement.
Trifa defines the Army of the Lord as a grassroots, Bible-based force
for revitalizing the Romanian Orthodox Church.
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),
Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.
© 1994 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
East-West Church & Ministry Report | Contents | Search back issues | From Our Readers | Subscribe