Orthodox Survival Course – St. Irene Orthodox Church– Rochester Hills, Michigan
Class 49: Faith Comes First – The Situation Today, Part I
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Introduction – “Faith Comes First” Section Up to this Point
Beginning with Class 41, we have been talking about the apostasy of the historical Orthodox hierarchies. I called this part of our course “Faith Comes First,” because the pure confession of the Orthodox Faith is the prerequisite for belonging to the Church, and therefore to choose which bishop or hierarchy to which one should submit oneself, one must start with the question, “Who confesses the Orthodox faith?” Being in the outward or legal possession of the title and the temporalities of an ancient institution does not make one a bishop if one is a heretic. We know this from Holy Scripture, from all of Church history, from the witness and writings of the Fathers, from the Church’s canonical tradition, and from common sense.
In Classes 41 through 43, we discussed general principles of ecclesiology and discernment, as well as making a side-trip into the issues of monarchism and nationalism. In Class 44, we outlined the history of the involvement of World Orthodoxy in the ecumenical movement in the 20th century, especially the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In Classes 45 through 48, we discussed the history of the Russian Church, ending with the destruction of the Russian Church Abroad by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007. In this session, Class 49, I hope to summarize the Russian situation, and in the next session, Class 50, I plan to summarize the situation in the rest of the Orthodox world, as well as make some suggestions and provide some guidelines for those who are wondering if they are in the right jurisdiction and are trying to decide where they belong. I am not going to tell you what to do, but I hope to give you some tools to do it.
Before going on to our summary of the Russian situation, however, I would like to clarify some of my remarks from our last class and fill in some gaps. I hope that those listening who are not from the old ROCOR or HOCNA background will bear with me. I am spending time on this, not only for the sake of my fellow former ROCOR/HOCNA brethren, but also because the history involved sheds so much light on our current situation, for everyone in the Orthodox world, and especially for us in North America.
A. Needed Clarifications and Omissions
1. Strong points of both Greek and Russian Churches.
a. Russians – liturgical order and beauty, humane culture, balance
b. Greeks – fasting, laser focus on dogmatic issues, courage
2. Balance the Platina vs. Boston picture. Overall attitude: gratitude
a. Platina strong and weak points (strong points previously covered)
i. Soviet “dissident” fascination, lack of clarity on ecclesiology
ii. also had its scandal and its cultism.
iv. the Seraphim Rose cottage industry – a species of “elderism”
b. Boston strong points, weak points
i. strong point was its stand against ecumenism
ii. also, English language mission, the Jesus Prayer
iv. also, reintroduced Greek Americans to monasticism
v. clarification of remark about modernism
vi. “the” scandal- another species of “elderism”
3. “Fall of ROCOR” discussion did include the key moments of the 2000 MP Jubilee Council and the 2001 election of Laurus and the letters to the MP and the Serbian Patriarchate, but did not include two key moments: the 1994 HSiR union and the 2006 IVth All-Diaspora Sobor.
a. 1994 HSiR union: faulty ecclesiology becomes official, relationship with GOC (and therefore influence from the GOC) cut off. Engineered by Russian pro-MP bishops for their own purposes, unrelated (or, rather, antithetical) to the Greek Old Calendar cause. In short, the HSiR was used by the pro-MP agents to advance their agenda, not to create True Orthodox unity.
i. To balance the picture: strong points of HSiR – intellectual life, pastoral love, mission to non-Greeks, honesty in pastoral approach to New Calendarists.
b. 2006 IV All-Diaspora Sobor: Not “soborny”, because the outcome was predetermined by the top leadership – the “union” (i.e., capitulation) was simply shoved through, not debated. The previously recognized preconditions – MP’s renunciation of ecumenism and Sergianism, an All-Russian Sobor – totally ignored.
B. The Situation Today – This Class: Russia. Next Class: Everyone else
1. Russian True Orthodox – Scattered and disunited Catacomb Church groups and ROCOR-derived groups
2. The MP –
a. ecumenism and universalism – Putin’s “traditional values”
b. does not oppose EP on theological grounds, only matters of territory and power
c. Pat. Kyrill world leader in alternative one-world agenda (see recent Baku meeting)
d. MP-Vatican ecumenism;e.g., Havana statement, Fatima
e. synthesis of Soviet apologetic and Orthodoxy
f. arm of neo-Soviet Russian internal and foreign policy
g. a trap for conservatives
h. situation in the trenches
i. some heroic and dedicated clergy
ii. dedicated laypeople
iii. signs of life but paralyzed by falsehood
iv. big picture: secular society in need of true confession, but not as degenerate as the West – source of hope
3. East vs West – False opposition: “Eurasia” vs. “Oceania” (a la Orwell). Two pincers of the kingdom of Antichrist.
a. West – the “Anglo-Zionist” empire of “liberal” (Judaeo- Masonic) nihilism plus radical Sunni Islam
b. East – Putin’s Russia, Red China, Shia Islam
Conclusion: The Lord is our only refuge! “Put not your trust in princes.”
Next class: The situation in the other patriarchates and national churches. Officialism and elderism, the saint factory, signs and wonders. How to choose a True Orthodox jurisdiction.