Army of the Lord

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The medallion of the Romanian Army of the Lord

The Army of the Lord, (Romanian: Oastea Domnului), is a spiritual and moral renewal movement in Romania founded, in 1922, by Fr. Joseph Trifa, a Romanian Orthodox priest. Fr. Trifa defined the Army of the Lord as a voluntary lay grassroots organization based on the Bible for revitalizing the Romanian Orthodox Church.

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Controversy has surrounded the movement since its founding as Fr. Trifa's writings[1] are silent concerning the role of the church and liturgy in salvation and spirituality. In his writings, his understanding of salvation and witness is expressed in language that is more commonly used by Western Protestantism. At the same time, however, Fr. Trifa insisted that the purpose of the movement was to promote a more integral way of living the Gospel within the Church, and pointed to the necessity of defending the Orthodox faith of the people against the spread of Protestantism. At the same time, fearing the routinization of what he perceived to be a primarily charismatic movement, he resisted the idea of an institutionalization of his movement. Thus, his ideas became objectionable to the hierarchy of the Church of Romania and resulted in his excommunication in 1937. Fr. Trifa reposed in 1938. The movement continued to function precariously until the Second World War, but was dissolved after the establishment of a Communist regime in Romania.

In 1990, after the fall of the Communist regime, Fr. Iosif Trifa's sanction was revoked by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, who rehabilitated him on the grounds of his having asked the pardon of his bishop. At the same time, the Holy Synod granted recognition to the reemerging Army of the Lord, but placed it under special supervision by a bishop designated every few years. [2] Bishops responsible for relations with the Army of the Lord included Metropolitan Nicolae Corneanu of Banat, the current Metropolitan Seraphim Joanta of Central and Northern Europe, and Archbishop Casian Craciun of the Lower Danube.

Since the fall of communism in the last decade of the twentieth century, the course of the organization has been torn over issues about the purpose and mission of the Army of the Lord. Thus, while a large part of the Army of the Lord accepted institutionalization and a stricter control by the Holy Synod, parts of it refuse to accept the process of institutionalization and the Holy Synod's supervision of the movement's actions (including dissident sections in the cities of Cluj and Simeria).[3]


  1. What is the Army of the Lord? (Ce este Oastea Domnului?)
  2. Decision no. 9067/1990 of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, in Biserica Ortodoxă Română [The Romanian Orthodox Church. Official Bulletin of the Romanian Patriarchy] CVIII, no. 11-12/1990, pp. 193-194.
  3. Metropolitan Nicolae Corneanu [of Banat], „Oastea Domnului – ieri şi azi” [The Army of the Lord - past and present], Învierea, no. 4, February 15, 1998, pp. 1-2, in Pe baricadele presei bisericeşti, vol. I, ed. Învierea, Timişoara, 2000, pp. 830-835.