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Thursday, September 29, 2022

The church as a disaster

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Written by Protodeacon Andrey Kuraev

When we compare the first century of Christian history even with the fourth, we cannot help but note the magnitude of the spiritual catastrophe of the Christian project as such.

The evaluation of the success or failure of a project is determined by the ratio of intention and results. So, what did the first Christians believe and dream about?

Above all: they believe they hold the keys to immortality in their hands. Death is not for those who have partaken of the Body of the Risen Christ and themselves become part of Him. They will never see death again.

But still, Christians began to die, not only those who were executed, but also those who were remembered in a natural way – from diseases and old age.[1] The question arises “How so?”. And here comes the answer of the apostle Paul – in the sense that death returns to them through their fault: “He who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks his condemnation, because he does not discern the body of the Lord. Therefore there are many weak and sick among you, and many are dying” (1 Cor. 11:29-30).

Ask any churchman today what it means to receive communion unworthily and he will tell you that it is receiving communion “without preparation”, i.e. without a three-day fast and reading the rule.

But the apostle Paul writes about something else. Sin committed during or after taking the antidote neutralizes its effect.[2] People lose the immortality they were just gifted with. But today we are not bothered or traumatized by the stories about the saint, who, staying in a blessed state of prayer, nevertheless died (see the legend about the kneeling death of Rev. Seraphim Sarovsky).

The second unfulfilled dream of the first Christians was about the imminent return of Christ.

They think that Christ will soon return (“you will not reach the cities of Israel”[3]) and therefore it is not worth staying here for a long time.

There is a modern word “call center”, but hardly anyone, even among the employees of these centers, guesses that their name has a common root with the Greek word “church”. In Greek, Church is “ecclesia” (from here comes the Italian chiesa, the French eglise, the Spanish Iglesia). This word is usually translated as “assembly”. This is somewhat correct historically, but not quite true, philologically speaking. It is historically correct, because the word “ecclesia” refers to the assembly of citizens, for example the assembly of the Athenians. The Greek translation of the Old Testament with this word conveys the Hebrew “kagal” – the assembly of Israel (hence Ecclesiastes – Kogelet).

The word ἐκκλησία derives from the verb ἐκκαλείν (“to call”), as in Ancient Greece members of the ἐκκλησίας were called by heralds who went around the city calling for an assembly.[4]

“Many are called, few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Call – kliti (κληtoί); chosen ones – eklikti (ἐκκλητοί).

So, the ecclesia is an assembly of the called, of the plucked up. In fact, we are torn from our usual order of life by this otherworldly call that comes from afar, from the Transcendent God. And people respond to this call and come.

So the Christian is defined not so much by his past as by his future; his identity is in his vocation, not his background.

Accordingly, the Church is a gathering of people who have felt themselves wanderers in this world. This idea of ​​wandering is very important to mystics and neophytes. Even from the night voice that calls Abraham on his way,[5] to the Gnostic “Hymn to the Pearl” the theme of the voice that calls to the Exodus passes. Let’s remember, for example, the epitaph that Grigoriy Skovoroda ordered to be carved on his grave: “The world hunted me, but it did not catch me.” Or text the message to Mr. Anderson: “Wake up Neo, the Matrix is ​​holding you!”.

The Christian is a foreigner and a stranger in this world, and according to Christian ideas, one should not completely overlap with the local order of things. At least with something he should distance himself from it, separate himself from this world, feeling the pull of the Supreme.

The people who experience this feeling of their foreignness in this world, hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, respond to it together and thus form the Church – the Ecclesia.

But behold, the apostles go through all the cities of Israel and even a little more, and Christ does not return. Instead of passing quickly through the world, the Church has to settle for a long time “in this world” and accordingly absorb its miasma and tricks.

The third dream of the first Christians is the dream of mystical anarchism. Living by grace, not by law. Live theocratically, not hierarchically. They dream that each person will hear the will of God in his heart without seeking the advice of elders or superiors.

The Apostle Peter expresses this dream of the Church on the very birthday of the Church – on the day of Pentecost, with a quote from the Book of the prophet Joel:

“… and behold, in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters will prophesy; your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and in those days I will pour out My Spirit on My servants and My servants, and they will prophesy… And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:17-21).

“And behold, afterward I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. I will also pour out my Spirit on male and female slaves in those days. And I will show omens in heaven and earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; because salvation will be on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the Lord says, and among the rest whom the Lord will call” (Joel. 2:28-32).

The essence of this dream is religion without intermediaries. For every person to have direct access to God, at that – two-way, online. May God directly address you, hear you and you hear Him. You don’t need to look for a postman priest. As such, a promise is unilateral, without conditions. It does not say that only chaste virgins or youths will be given prophecy.

For the ancient prophet, this is not asceticism, nor is it ecclesiology. This is eschatological sotiriology: the end of the known order of things is coming (“The sun will turn into darkness and the moon into blood”); it is obvious to all (“signs of heaven and earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke”). But there is a “portal” for evacuation, and it is Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

By quoting this most vivid apocalyptic text, the apostle shows us that the “last day” is coming right now. The evacuation is announced (with a slight change in the password: “the name of the Lord” is now the name of Jesus Christ, not Yahweh).

Has this come true in the history of the Christian Church? Well, go to the temple with your dream or prophecy and tell about it to a priest or to the whole congregation, or write to the Synod about it… Besides, the Synod does not make any decisions based on visions at all.

So there is a dream of a mystical anarchism, where God will directly give visions and counsels to every heart, without the involvement of priests, hierarchs and elders. But it is necessary to build a church with iron discipline and a complex hierarchy.

The main problem of the Church is also expressed in the words of the Apostle Paul: “You were going well: who prevented you from obeying the truth?” (see Gal. 5:7, translation note). In the centuries-long marathon, the Christian idea is visibly expiring.

The phenomenon that Max Weber calls masters, heroes, “virtuosos of religiosity” can also be considered a symptom of the disease. If there are “virtuosos”, then there are also “mediocres”, which are obviously more numerous.

Today it is clear to us – not all Christians are saints. But at first they thought it wouldn’t be like that.

One of the unique features of the Gospel, which also manifests itself in the Pentecostal faith, is the abolition of the division of the world into a profane and a sacred zone, fundamental to religious culture.

The basis of traditional culture is the system of taboos, the main of which separates the sacred from the profane. This is the holy spring, and this is an ordinary watering hole. This is the sacred grove, and this is just the taiga… In the Gospel, however, these divisions are removed. Everything is God’s.

And there is no longer any separate holy temple mountain: every place is holy.

There is no holy nation. Where two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ, there He is also. And in general, the Kingdom of God is in the heart of even the solitary believer.

There is no Sabbath: God is always with us. Every minute and day is holy, i.e. God’s. If the heathen thought that he had the right to freely dispose of profane recreation as his right, now it turns out that this too is not his, but God’s.

“Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In Valeria Alfeeva’s short story “Jvari”, the Georgian monk says to the heroine: “This is not right at all – to have a separate time for prayer and a separate time for life, which does not resemble prayer at all. There should be no interruption. All life must be addressed to God as a prayer.”

Now there is no longer anything that is separate and opposed to the rest of God’s creation. A person can do something significant for God not when he does some manipulations with His idol or image, but when he treats another person in some way. An ordinary person, not a saint either, and sometimes even extremely unpleasant in every respect. But if you did something for him, you did it to Me. Now every poor man is Job and even Christ. The Law of Insulting Imperial Majesty can be applied to insulting any bum. Because he is also an icon of God. It is better to leave the temple, leaving the prepared sacrifice unoffered, but to make peace with your domestic “enemy”.

The whole Gospel story is a series of scandals: God – the Holy of Holies – enters something impure by definition (from the woman’s womb to the heathen judgment on Himself, the Cross, the grave of another and the hell of another).

However, according to the laws of dialectics, the word “everything” is treacherous. The words “holy” and “profane” are related. If there is nothing to relate to, then the meaning of this word is at least greatly weakened.

“All is sanctified” is the same as “all is profane.” Because there is no border.

Christians eat the object of their cult. They eagerly devour like a dog (τρώγων – John 6:54) and gather for their Sacrament like vultures (ἀετος) over a corpse (Matt. 24:28). Indeed, the Gospel is the greatest profane project in history.

The Holy Gifts are offered by us to God, and then they return to us again and are taken outside the altar – fanum – and distributed to the people.

We eat what God did not burn, so it is the Holy Communion with us that is profane… The waste from the ritual is profane. And it is with them that Christ is identified. At the Last Supper as His Body, He consecrates precisely the afikoman – the bitter bread of the Exodus (from Egypt, note trans.), the bread of the homeless.

Afikoman is the dedication of the holiday. Eating the leftovers. Translated into the words of modern liturgical practice, Christ performs the Sacrament by what we call “the consumption of the Gifts.” This is reaching the very border between the holiday and the everyday, between the sacred and the secular.

In addition, the afikoman is that part of the Passover unleavened bread that was proper to leave until the end of the festive meal – in case a poor person or a traveler came, in accordance with the commandment: “and rejoice before the Lord your God, you … and the stranger , the orphan” (Deut. 16:11). It is this afikoman who breaks Christ as His Body.[6] The Eucharist is the bread of the stranger and the poor, the bread of the homeless.

“In every tree is the crucified Christ. In every class is the Body of Christ”.[7] Everything is sacred. And all Saturdays are for man. And “the mystery of our salvation” is “for us men.” Putting the Body of Christ into the mouth of a leper – isn’t this both profanation and sacralization?

To give up all to gain all. In fact, this is the “law of the grain”. To dissolve in the other, to let it inside you – so that the other becomes a part of you.

The ethos of the Gospel is an ethos of total profanation. A sacrament not of the altar, but a sacrament of my neighbor. Already with the apostle John the Theologian, we see this redirection of the religious vector from the God-Who-is-not-seen in the direction of man and the small circumstances of his life. The apostle, who begins his speech with “In the beginning was the Word,” ends it with the simple “children, love one another.”

Hence: “The brother asked the old man: there were two brothers; one kept silence in his cell, continued his fast even up to six days a week, and assigned himself many labors. The other ministered to the sick. Whose work is more pleasing to God? The old man answered him: that brother who fasts for six days, even if he hangs on his nostrils, and then he will not be able to compare with the one who serves the sick” (From the Ancient Crutches).

This is one of the main and vital paradoxes of Christianity.

However, in the history of the Church, a division between secular and profane arises again (instead of “do everything for the glory of God”). And the more time passes, the more distinct these boundaries become.

In 2017, St. Petersburg Metropolitan Varsanufy (Sudakov) clarified what profanation is: “Many temples have not yet been returned to us. And they tell us: serve in them, in these museums that we have. We, of course, can and do serve in them. But I do not know how the praise to God amounts to these temples. Because the sanctity of the temple is being violated. Who enters there after our service, who walks there and what they do there…”[8]

Indeed, this conclusion is difficult to reconcile with the Gospel account: the Sacrament of Salvation takes place on Calvary – in that place where, both before and after the Sacrifice of the Redeemer, quite ungodly things happen.

Nor have I come across any record of Christ ordering the burning of the inn where He administered the Last Supper. Or at least the table and the mats on which He and the apostles rested.

The first Christians dreamed of many things.

They believe that all social barriers will collapse and there will be neither slaves nor masters.

They think that those cold words “mine” and “yours” will disappear and there will be common ownership.

But Christ is not coming back.

Our expedition to planet Earth turns out to be “forgotten”. Instead of a portal to the Otherworld, the “Stargate” becomes a gathering place for the neighbors. Money becomes “neighbors”. Dreams of a holy life become an ordinary parish life, and for some – a source of income.

The Parousia does not happen. Death remains. Human quarrels – too. And it becomes imperative that they learn to live in the mud of earth’s history. It will say: with whom you get together – that is who you become.

As a result, the early history of the Church looks like a series of catastrophes, that is, of catastrophic failure of dreams.

This catastrophe of expectations is described by the later formula: the first Christians await the return of Christ, and to them comes the Church. And they have to start church-party construction.

The new religion gained mass and became institutional.

Again a division between pastors and parishioners arises.

Again, a hierarchical pyramid is built with the corresponding career aspirations. And even “ecclesiastical-administrative mechanism”.[9]

A calendar of fasts, holidays and prayers appears again. In other words, enforced discipline takes the place of voluntary thirst for prayer and aspiration (“Typical” instead of “pray without ceasing”).

Again a division of secular and profane appears (instead of “do everything for the glory of God”).

Church real estate and those who dispose of it and profit from it appear again. “Heaven-goers” get hemorrhoids in the form of earthly real estate and struggle to preserve and expand it, corporate and national interests arise. This politicization is actually the inevitable path of any religion in its serious propagation.

Again, instead of “don’t worry about tomorrow” comes high-minded calculation in the style of “realpolitik” and the fight for the “interests of the Church”.

The apostles from the beginning dream of living in a world where everything is guided by love and by the Spirit, where the heavy burden of law and instructions do not exist. The first decree of the apostolic council was “it is forbidden to forbid”.[10] Because Christ abolished “the law of commandments” (Eph. 2:15).

The subsequent church statutes, however, are not at all lighter than the Pharisaic “traditions”.

Suddenly we find ourselves stuck in the world of the law, the world of the covenant that is declared old. The balance of centuries of spiritual selection can be likened to the publican who is proud that he is not a Pharisee.

Resurrection of the dead does not happen. No one can turn water into wine. And the Second Coming does not come after the missionary sweep of all the lands and inventories of the “canonical territories”. They have to deal with the earthly, although, as before, they call themselves the “heavenly host”. Something about this transformation of the group of refugees from the world into a corporation of earthly power turns out to be successful, even human. But the Miracle of the awakened conscience, the Miracle of the direct Epiphany somehow gets lost. And that is why those who enter church life because they seek God and not some ideology are discouraged.

The church becomes like everyone else. She becomes the subject of property-legal relations, quarrels and envy. And even “ecclesiastical law gives way to church politics”.[11]

The world tames the “citizens of heaven.”

The grounding of the Church, with her own consent, is proceeding successfully and applies for centuries to come. The monks, the sectarians, the reformers, the Protestants are pulling a little… But the “Union of the Sword and the Plow” (the union of the imperial sword and the bishop’s plow) stops them. Grounding is an absence of our unworldliness. The church many centuries ago ceases to be an institution that is “not of this world”, it turns out to be very firmly anchored to various oligarchic strata and plunder. That is why the speech of its hierarchs sounds self-interested, partisan and lobbyist.

The Church is an ancient legal institution. There is a hint of bitterness in this statement. Ancient… So already a long time ago, even at our very sources, we are stuck in the world of the law, in the world of the illusory overcome Old Testament. We still need some external regulatory discipline.

The dream of the first generation of Christians is a dream of the death of both the state and the law. The end of the time of the Jewish law and of the Roman law has come; now we live by grace. Our consciences, our hearts are renewed. The power of love, not the law of love, but the power of love reigns through Christ in our hearts. And therefore we need no courts, no outward forms even of piety, much less any regulation of complex social relations. The grace of Christ will change everyone.

But the preaching of “freedom in Christ” even during the lifetime of the apostles gave rise to a number of excesses. And they have to switch to reminding of simple “rules of decency”. For example, to call on women to wear towels (1 Cor. 11 ch.). And in general to ask everyone not to indulge in such sexual intemperance, about which “not even among the heathens a word is spoken”.[12]

Christians begin to come into conflict with each other. Even the apostles had to make concessions because of the imperfection of their disciples. The Christians from the Jews began to scandalize the Christians from the Hellenes. The question of how to deal with the money that people bring into the general treasury turns out to be “eternal”. It turns out that these pennies are just looking to stick to someone’s particular little hands.

This is how deacons appear. So that the apostles do not interfere in financial matters and are not distracted from the sermon. The deacons were supposed to listen to the complaints of the parishioners against each other, to “tend the tables” and be in charge of the treasury. And in this regard, gradually everything becomes as with men, and not as with the holy angels. And the conflict between love and harsh law by coercion is resolved in favor of the latter.

It turns out that Christians lack neither a grace-enhancing reason, nor simply an inner voice of conscience to resolve the completely non-theological disputes between them. Courts appear to be necessary. And the courts found that written collections of ecclesiastical laws were necessary.

Gradually everything becomes as with men, and not as with the holy angels. And as a result, it turns out that the Church has not freed itself from this conflict between love and harsh law. And although the Church considers itself a moral society, at the same time it turns out that we cannot live simply by morality.

The reason is simple. It turns out that in the same person, the ecclesiastical-hierarchical height and the moral-moral height may not coincide. And even religious giftedness (responsiveness to the Call, a sense of Him) may not be accompanied by giftedness in moral sense. It turns out that Pharisaism is not at all a private episode of Jewish history, it becomes a disease of the Christian community itself, and especially of its leaders. A person can pray a lot, sincerely, with tears, and at the same time not feel the pain of another at all, he can be a merciless tyrant or a merchant. A virtuoso in religion may be a total fool in ethics.

This is where the need for a law comes from. If I cannot be sure that the bishop will always judge according to the highest Christian criteria; that his words, deeds, actions will always coincide with the mercy and selflessness of Christ, then I need a law. The law at least somehow protects me – the little one, in front of the big boss. The conflict between morality and law turns out to be unlived: law is still needed and “law” passes into “our age.”

The creed professes faith in “one, holy, conciliar and apostolic church.” Alas, we have to put the emphasis on the word “faith”, that is, the church (community of people) with such qualities is not obvious, but an object of faith.

Patr. Cyril has the following beautiful statement: “We must understand very clearly that the power in the Church is not the secular power. Power in the Church is not shouting, it is not scolding, it is not dismissal, it is not furrowed brows, it is not stomping the foot, it is not loud words, but it is love”.[13]

However, it is better to specify: “I believe in the one holy Church, in which the power is not the power of shouting and not the stamping of the foot, but the power of love.” And we believe in what is not obvious. We believe in what contradicts everyday experience. I also believe in the patriarch’s words, I believe…but I don’t see. More precisely: the power of love is too rarely and timidly manifested sometimes through the crudely obvious System of stomping, shouting and scolding.

It seems to Christians, shaken by the Sermon on the Mount, that it is not at all appropriate for them to clarify their relations with each other through legal means. And “with the outsiders” (1 Cor. 6:5-6; trans. note) it is not fitting to judge one another, but to yield to one another until sunset.

A modern specialist in ecclesiastical law assures us: “The canons serve to preserve that original image of the Church which appears on the day of Pentecost”.[14]

But the “image of the Church” in the biblical account of Pentecost is altogether radically incompatible with canon law. In that day, no one could even think about canonical boundaries, about ecclesiastical court, about penances, hierarchies and money. Could anyone have imagined on the day of Pentecost that Christians would need an ecclesiastical court and “doctors of ecclesiastical law”?

That “image of the Church” is in tongues of fire, prophecies and miracles. Where is the fire, where are the prophecies and miracles in the canonical collections?

“Your young men shall see visions” (Acts 2:17). And what do the canons say about the dreams of young people? On that day, the apostle Peter said: “You now see and hear the Holy Spirit.” Who has learned from the canons to see and hear the Spirit? Which canon law professor?

And the account of that day: “And all the believers were together, and they had everything in common; they sold property and goods and divided them among all, to each according to his need” (Acts 2:44-45). Are the canons true to this communism? Do they punish for deviation from it?

No, church canons were not born at Pentecost at all. They are its antipode and substitute. These are bishops who realized church life in the categories of power and consolidated their authority with canons created on the model of Roman law.

The gifts of Pentecost are given to the weak. And canons protect the strong. There are many canons that protect the rights of the bishop in relation to his colleagues and subordinates. And there is not a single canon that protects the lower clergy and laity from the arbitrariness of the bishop.

Of course, this transformation doesn’t happen overnight. That is why canons exist, truly filled with love. But the canonists, who serve the ambitions of the bishopric, declare precisely these canons obsolete.

We can only believe in the Church, which is holy, as one believes in the unseen and in spite of the seen. Some people see the holy essence of the Church. For them are the words of Nikolay Zabolotski: “The soul wanders in the invisible, overwhelmed by its stories. With an unseeing gaze she sends nature to the outer world.”

However, those who do not have such insight see in the Church only the outer gilding, which looks like mud to them from above…

But my biggest pain is not about who and what we look like, but about how Christians themselves have changed since the Gospel era.

Was it possible for the apostles on the first day of this era to set about regulating the question of the inheritance of their personal property? And in the Orthodox canon law there are quite a few decrees on how to try to distinguish the personal property of the bishop from the church wealth.[15] So, such a problem also appears in the life of the “successors of the apostles”.

Here is a description of the Church by the Apostle Paul: “we are considered… strangers, but we are well known; we are thought to be dying, and behold, we are alive; they punish us, but they cannot kill us; they grieve us, and we are always joyful; we are poor, but we make many rich; we have nothing, but we possess everything” (2 Cor. 6:8-10).

As long as the Church is apostolically poor, as long as there is neither luxury nor grandeur in it, it is invisible to the competitive-predatory gaze. If she is hated, it is precisely because of her faith, not because of political alliances and ambitions or because of material possessions.

But then it is covered with the heavy crimson robes of imperialism, the wet snow of real estate clings to it, the mud of gold and the fog of compromising but “useful” connections makes it noticeable to those who want to see in it not the Church of God, but an ordinary participant in ordinary contests for purely earthly prizes.[16]

Much of the history of the Church’s illness is understood by the formula: big congregations need big buildings. Large buildings require large maintenance costs. And big money needs big security. Who can provide this security? The prince. So great care must be taken so that the prince does not take away the real estates and incomes of the bishops and does not trouble the “parishioners”.

The imp gave us too fat a gift. Constantine in the 4th century and we suffocated with him. The church acquires a lot of church property and the center of the church’s cares and activities shifts sharply…St. John Chrysostom has a magnificent simile: “As too large shoes injure the feet; so also too large a dwelling wounds the soul”.[17] And again, his words are: “All collected church property should be immediately distributed to the poor” (Six words about the priesthood 3, 16).

History shows that small religious groups that can meet in homes are less vulnerable to collaborationism and repression than those whose lives are built around huge and lavish cathedrals and services.

Everything is logical. However, as a result we look like this:

“Money has gravity. At an amount that exceeds ‘N’, they begin to distort the space and reality around them. And they begin to guide their owner. According to Maslow’s pyramid, the first need is safety. And if we own at least one billion, we already have to pay negative interest so that they don’t take that billion from us. The billion gains consciousness, teeths, and begins to lunge at passers-by, defending itself. He spends some part of himself on the protection of his body, as the state spends on an army. “One hundred billion” in the same hands means that the concern is only about one thing – how to survive.

It can only survive in one way – by buying an army and police to guard the financially gravitational object. That is precisely why, from the time of the baptism of the Kyiv residents in Pochayna, the church actively interfered in politics and administration. If you want to keep your tithe, one way or another you will have to negotiate with the prosecutor, the police chief, the minister, etc. This is inevitable. Otherwise, you will have to live like the barefoot monks and rely only on alms. Because nothing really threatens them.

Therefore, the interests of the ROC-MP will always be political. They cannot leave their pasture unattended, or it will be torn up and plundered by revelers of the Sunday kind[18] or strict Roman Catholics with their shish-kebab picnics. The billion requires protection from the administration and the ROC is simply doomed to invest in the protection of its financial pasture at the level of power.

Money has ruled the ROC for a long time. They naturally become disinterested in the surrounding reality, paying no attention to their patriarchs and metropolitans. No prayer helps here, because the laws of physics, including financial laws, are stronger than miracles. It’s impossible because it’s… impossible. I will remind you that at the beginning of his career, Kiril Gundyaev was considered a too progressive and liberal hierarch, hardly a young reformer. Check it out now.

The power and authority of the church in the days of the Russian Empire were unimaginable. Its authorities, of course, were obedient to the tsar-father, but they did whatever they wanted with the common people, including issuing sex licenses and drawing up the monthly menu. They imposed penances, deprived children of inheritance and organized deliberate public obstructions. They could not allow them to study, to work and in general they were arbitrarily as they wanted.

Therefore, as soon as the Bolsheviks pushed the formation, the delighted parishioners ran to throw their batyushkas from the belfries, and the Chekists, who were about to come after them, noticed with disappointment that they were too late and there was no one in particular to shoot. Note the flying revolutionary calls calling for the shooting of the White Guard, the kulak and the pop. Well, let’s assume that for the first two it is more or less understandable for military and economic reasons. But why pop? Why not conductors or carriage drivers for example? Or some shaggy futurists out there? Why the poor monk?

Well, that’s exactly why. The Russian Orthodox Church has constantly invested in power a negative interest from the revenues, obtaining a license to oppress ordinary residents, simple people, guilds, in every sense. She returned the investment from them, collected the profit, paid the negative interest to the authorities and started the new season according to her church calendar.

And today, a hundred years later, the situation has not changed. The money sack requires mercenaries to guard it. That is why the issue is not even that the ROC is losing electoral and fiscal share. At the same time, he lost it through his own fault, because for centuries he was engaged in proselytizing and robbing his own flock – instead of evangelization and missionary work.

Without the tsar-father, as a guarantor of the integrity and integrity of the accumulated billion, the Russian Orthodox Church is not good at all.

In Russia, the Church arose as a puppy taken from the street, completely dependent on the owner and the evening pan of milk. And although during these years the puppy has grown and reached the size of a fat guarded shepherd, it is still so touchingly pressed to the chest of another prince, it feels good in his arms and tries devotedly to lick daddy on the nose. In general terms, there is nothing special about the financing of confessions by the state – it is enough to recall the “Constantine gift”. After that, though, you will – you won’t, you have to get back on your feet and learn to walk on your own. But the church of the Muscovites turned out to be too homely, born, like slippers with pompoms, unwilling to let go of the pacifier and get off the master’s lap, and even received the decrees for the collection of the tithe due to it from the hands of its master. Can you imagine such a thing in Europe, where Philip the Fourth of France waged veritable trade and customs wars with Pope Boniface? Over time, however, it becomes clear that you will not raise a hunting or shepherd dog from this Moscow puppy, only the career of a yard guard dog remains. Home church. From all exits on a common platform, from all these unions, intercommunions and all other ecumenisms, the frightened priests refuse, swinging the censer above their heads – no one should approach. We are not coming to you – and you are not coming to us. The puppy has become a yard dog and will not go farther than the length of the chain. Therefore he snarled at anyone who approached the court, accusing everyone of proselytizing. One gets the feeling that the ROC-MP perceives even the unbaptized in Russia as its property, only with a deferred right of use. Like unripe apples in your own garden. He tolerates the Muslims because the owner let Uncle Abdullah sniff him, sternly said “No!” and threatened him with a finger. So the watchdog of Russian spirituality squints suspiciously from his hut with a cross and a bell at the unpleasant uncle in a turban and slippers, but he is not ordered to descend on the “friend of the house”. For now. The Moscow guard dog does not care who he serves, as long as there is something in the pan. It is known that the owner will put it. Even if suddenly the relations worsen and they start sending the priests to Solovki, not to the monastery, but to a concentration camp – you just have to be patient and wait. The dog knows that he will be forgiven sooner than some cyberneticians, geneticists and other saxophonists out there. The Hound knows that it will prove more useful to the Master than the Cybernetics.[19]

Christianity has gone too far in its rigor. Because his main thesis is irreconcilable: all humanity is progressing towards hell. The ship of salvation is one – the Church… Whoever is outside of it is doomed to destruction.[20] But whoever is in the Church also sins every day and is excommunicated from it with his sins.

On October 29, 2017, ep. Pitirim (Tvorogov), who was rector of the MDA for a short time, delighted his parishioners with the message that only three percent of Orthodox Christians would escape hell.[21] Not just from the inhabitants of the Earth, namely three percent of the Orthodox.

That’s logical. The last times will therefore be the last, because the flow of those being saved will become scarce. But to name precisely our time “the last” and precisely to apply these three percent to your flock – this is theological hooliganism.

Now let’s bring these eschatological statistics to the level of personal shepherding. “Abba Isaac of Tivey saw a brother who had fallen into sin and condemned him. When he returned to the desert, an Angel of the Lord appeared, standing in front of his door, and said: I will not let you out. Abba begged him, saying: what is the reason? – The angel answered him: God sent me to you with the words: ask him, where will he order Me to throw the fallen brother? – Abba Isaac immediately threw himself on the ground, saying: I have sinned before You, – forgive me!” (Ancient Paterik 9, 5).

Suppose I am a bishop and a man stands before me. He claims to be a Christian, but he breaks both the commandments and the church rules. According to church law I must remove this ungodly man from church communion. But I believe that by doing so I am condemning him to eternal torment. I recall the case of Isaac of Tyvei…

In general, the Church had to make a choice: either to be a tiny “community of saints”, or to become a mass, popular, state religion, in practice with the liquidation of its requirements to the parishioners.

In Christianity, a certain duality was originally laid down: the path of the lonely Saul, called and called to hunt for the Pearl and became Paul. Or the path of common, joint wandering. This is the way of the “twelve”, headed by Jacob, the brother of the Lord. The two motives sounded simultaneously in the hearts of the apostles and the first ones who continued their work: the motive for the personal exit and the motive for the responsibility for the congregation.

And here in this second motive there is a turning point: “caring for the flock” becomes a justification for any personal compromises of the shepherds. “For the good of the Church.” And insofar as the ultimate good is thought of as infinite (“eternal salvation”), it turns out to be out of proportion to anything else on earth. In avoiding the greatest evil (“eternal destruction”) and striving for the greatest good, it is easy to lose sight of the commensurability between ends and means.

One of the reasons for the victory of the Bolsheviks (perhaps not the main reason for the historian) lies in the fact that they set for themselves and for society an impossible goal – happiness for all mankind. According to Karl Marx, everything past and present is now only prehistory. The real history of mankind will begin only when we (Bolsheviks) come to power. When the end is so great, in its splendor and in its grandeur the means somehow dim, fade, and die out.

Bolshevism is often referred to as the secularization of Christianity (of messianism). That is to say, the working class is here in the role of “collective messiah”. In practice, church ideologues long before the Bolsheviks provided the recipe for justifying the most mass terror “in the name of”.

But mass terror, the “pole of evil,” does not equal simply evil. That which serves to justify the extermination of the bourgeois or the heretics may also justify lesser meannesses. To waste a destiny. To eliminate one person. Not to hear someone’s cry of pain.

The declared goal is great: it is the salvation of souls in eternity. And again, in the splendor and majesty of such a goal, all the shortcomings of the means attracted (as bait) to the realization of the Great Project pale and dim. That is why it is so easy to accept the “wise decision”: the survival of the Church is more important than a few broken destinies and betrayals. You can transgress, break the law, you can do business with folk-pagan quackery, giving it a Christian color. And to consider all this as “service to God”. Along the dry, the wet also burns. Our end will justify our means. Or to put it in modern terms: the image of the Church is more important than children’s tears.

Alas, it is not so much the end that justifies (sanctifies) the means as the means that demonize the end. Should you have spoken unrighteousness for God’s sake and lied for his sake… He will punish you severely, even if you are hypocrites in secret (Job 13:7, 10).

The apparatchik, inclined to compromise for the sake of his personal career, has his logic. The minister, who is ready for anything for the sake of the Church, also has his logic. The two models can be intertwined.

It is difficult to constantly have in mind the “eternal salvation of mankind” as a guide for daily administration. However, the bishop acts easily: he equates the Church with himself, and the good of the Church with his own interests. The bishop ceases to distinguish between “state interest and personal interest”. He begins to think that his interests are the interests of the Church, and accordingly, what is profitable for him is profitable and useful for the Church as well.

And all this is added to the set of banal worn-out wisdom: “If I don’t sign it, someone else will, and if I sign it and stay in my post, I will do a lot of good for people”; “One Swallow Spring Doesn’t Make”; “I have obligations above all to my family”; “We in the party will gradually change the situation from within”…

When it comes to compromises and concessions, that is, a conflict of values, it is important to understand how the hierarchy of these values ​​is constructed. And therefore it is also a matter of self-esteem for some people. The egocentrism inherent in all of us can sometimes multiply the ideological race. I, therefore, my function, my competences are unique and irreplaceable, they elevate me above other people, therefore preserving my life and potential is important for everyone. And therefore these “all” must guard me as the apple of their eye, and I can sacrifice them for myself (for my “service”).

This moral mutation is greatly aided by the identification of the VIP-managers, the rulers, with the very process from which they derive profit, i.e., the identification of the episcopate itself with the Church as such.[22]

And here is Patr. Cyril justifies the compromises of patr. Sergius: “In order to preserve the apostolic succession itself, so that even in prisons, in camps, priests can be secretly ordained and monks can be ordained – for all this the most blessed miter. Sergius undertook this…”.[23]

And in order to secretly ordain priests in the camps, it seems that what was undertaken by Sergius was not necessary at all. This is precisely what the confessors who disagreed with him did, and ended up in prisons not without his consent.

“Therefore, in order to save the Church, the most blessed Mitr. Sergius undertook…” – this is the ecclesiology of today’s Patriarch Cyril.

The same can be said when it comes to saving a library collection or a museum. But in general, wasn’t it accepted in our country to say that the Church is headed by the Savior and that she saves us (us, including the patriarchs), and not we – her…

It has a noticeable patristic distinction. Cyril of Patr. Alexius II.

Alexius felt not exactly shame, but some internal sense of discomfort at Mitr’s Declaration. Sergius of 1927 and the subsequent political servility of patriarchal figures. He, of course, could not call Sergius a traitor or a heretic. But even if he considered Sergius a “God-wise saint” and a model of a church leader, he also did not want to. Alexius’ position is: it’s over, forget it. We are already different.

And here, Patr. Cyril, on the other hand, sincerely and with conviction not only repeats, but also multiplies the dithyrambs about Sergius. And even canonized it as a holy prayer book.

We cannot call Cyril’s appeal to the clergy otherwise: “Let us remember, brothers, that by the prayers of St. Sergius…”.[24] “We believe that Saint Sergius is still praying to God for his earthly fatherland, for the Church. Through his prayers, may God protect the Russian land. Amen”.[25]

If the Russian land is protected by the prayers of Reverend Sergius Stragorodsky, you are worried about it. However, if the patriarch seriously proposed this canonization – at the synod of bishops, hardly anyone would object…

The political context of such a radical justification is also worrying. “The All-Russian Saint Sergius of Stragorod”… And who elevated him to such a general church luminary? The God-given leader Joseph the Terrible and his God-moved right hand. And it is time to count him among the saints. Tremble, liberals!

Are we going in this direction, or am I wrong and Sergius’ furious apology from today’s patriarch is just a psychological search for self-justifications? Hiding behind tradition? Could this be a defense not only from external criticism, but also from internal one? And this is to some extent a remorseful remorse, more precisely a reaction to her, but also a testimony to her persistent and living call? Or is this a personal gratitude: without the Sergianism, the lightning-fast career of Nikodim (Rotov) would not have taken place, and without Nikodim Volodya Gundyaev would still be sitting in front of the geological desk as narrow as analog? Or is the motive for such self-defeating apologia in the desire to endorse and reinforce the dogma of patriarchal infallibility? In other words, the people must believe that the patriarchs cannot be wrong.

But it is a fact that the 21st century patriarch’s protection of the most controversial of the Soviet-era church leaders is not mandatory. “The life feat of St. Sergius led to the emergence of a new generation of episcopate, of clergy capable of protecting the Church and strengthening the faith of Christ. None of this would exist, nor would the employees of my generation and the next generation, if Patr. Sergius, sacrificing his authors, had not done what he did by restraining the hand of the persecutors”.[26]

It turns out that the generation of confessors and martyrs failed to “protect the church”, unlike the collaborators… The moral and human cost (“in the world’s hardest currency”) is not important. The main, important thing is “the new generation of episcopate”.

It is no longer a defense of the weak man’s dangerous and wholly worthless choices, a defense against moral rebukes now delivered from a safe zone. It is the creation of an image, of a sacred precedent, of a norm. You see, this means that one must serve – even the ungodly authorities. No moral distancing from them. Their satisfaction and joys are forever ours too. If they have to chase and kill their own because of goals set by the pursuers – we will help. Because of staying in power, and because of being likened to the “new generation of episcopate”.

Sergius and his followers have honestly kept their promise: henceforth they take all their “moral” assessments of current events from the pages of the Pravda newspaper, rejoicing and mourning together, by order and for the pleasure of their persecutors. More precisely, not to their own, but to the persecutors of people who were actually in chains, and not in the confiscated and handed over to them ambassadorial estates.

The moral reprehensibility of “Sergianism” is not only in false declarations. The declarations are meant for export, for the outside, for the ears of the executioners. It is worse that Sergius and his followers implement in the internal church life a cadre church policy originating from the enemies of the Church. The canons affirm that a new bishop cannot be appointed during the lifetime of the previous one, if he has not expressed his consent to it. But with his decrees, Sergius deprived the arrested bishops of their cathedrals, i.e. he aggravated their harsh punishment by the secular authorities with ecclesiastical punishment. And in the place of those arrested, he appointed new bishops. With this, in fact, he canonized Soviet repression.

In 1929, the chief liquidator and anti-churchman Tuchkov[27] boasted: “Mitr. Sergius, as before, is completely under our influence and fulfills all our instructions. By the Synod of Sergius, a circular was issued to the diocesan bishops assigning them responsibility for the political trustworthiness of the cult’s officials and with a prescription for repression along church lines for a[nti]s[soviet] activity. Sergius himself also undertook repression, dismissing offending priests”.[28]

The circular mentioned by Tuchkov to Mitr. Sergius of April 2, 1929 states: “To spiritual persons, unwilling or unable to quickly acquire a correct attitude to the state and public order, it is necessary to apply one or other church measures of influence.”

In December 1927, Tuchkov ordered an aide to convey to the Leningrad Chekists: “Report that we will influence Sergius to ban the ministry of several opposition[ion] bishops, and then Yerushevich (referring to Peterhofsky, then head of the Leningrad Diocese Ep. Nicholas) to forbid certain priests”.

The former manager of the affairs of the Synod of Sergius, archbishop. Pitirim (Krylov), in his testimony at an interrogation in 1937: “Mitr. Sergius (Stragorodsky) himself gave orders to the bishops not only not to give up secret cooperation with the NKVD, but even to seek this cooperation”.[29]

According to the canons of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea, all Christians who have fallen into sin are those who, although they have not apostatized from the faith, but for one reason or another have assisted the pagans against the Christians by directing them to the homes of Christians (Gregory of Neocaesarea , rules 8 and 9).

He who helps the enemies of the Church by pointing out and removing zealous Christians should be deprived of the priesthood. And what to do with the patriarchs and synod composition from Soviet times? As what to perceive miter. Sergius?

What kind of person is he who sent an archbishop into exile? Ermogen (Golubev). And among the signatories of this synodal decree was the future patriarch Alexius (Riediger)? Macarius (Shistun), who bought his elevation to the episcopate by denunciation of his fellow student Pavel Adelheim?[31]

As for the “Declaration” – I will not blame Sergiy for it. There is no “sergeism” and there never was. This is the usual and centuries-old servility of the Orthodox bishops, which was very clearly manifested in the Ottoman Empire.

Such definitions were given to this phenomenon: “sergianism, i.e. conscious trampling of the ideal of the holy Church for the sake of preserving external decorum and personal well-being” (svmchk ep. Damascene (Cedric), 1934). “Giving up ecclesiastical freedom, you at the same time preserve the fiction of canonicity and orthodoxy. This is more than a violation of individual canons” (prot. Valentin Sventsitsky, 1928).

That’s right. But what’s new here? All this has happened before.

For the “feat of Mitr. Sergius, I can’t speak at all. And here, however, there is nothing new, nothing modern. He is not a demon and he has not made the Church worse. Because there is nowhere worse. Targeting rubbish like “your hierarchs welcomed Stalin” – “therefore yours applauded Hitler” speaks only of the fraternity of the accusers. They share genetics.

If a person is not a hero, it does not mean that he is complete garbage… He is just a person spoiled by the housing problem and who was persistently told in seminary that obedience to authority is the most important thing in the world. But elevating such devices to moral authorities and beacons is not your job either. All the more worth rejecting the claims of moral leadership and superhuman wisdom emanating from their epigones.

All contemporary hierarchs of Sergius were “lave”. And Patr. Tikhon, and Metropolitans Peter and Joseph. None of them told the Bolsheviks the truth about them to their face. No one called for “lithium marches.” However, there are varying degrees of allowable trade-offs. To depose bishops at the will of atheists and to impose ecclesiastical punishments for political reasons – this is precisely Sergius’s choice.

Did Sergius really manage to feel the limit where the pressure weakened and the church structure – with a creak, but withstood? Perhaps the same results by 1941 would have happened if the church had resisted the “Solovetsky line” of resistance?

It was not the “wise Sergius” who stayed the hand of the persecutors. The War stopped them. All the time between the Declaration[32] and the War was filled with a progressive suffocation of church life.[33]

Was it even worth it to fight so fiercely to preserve the “unity of the Church” around you? Perhaps scattering, dispersing the church structures, uniting them around the pastors and not around the diocesan administrations, would have helped the people more?

“The unity of church government preserved at a colossal cost – by allowing the ungodly into the personnel policy of the church – only made it easier for the atheistic authorities to carry out their tasks, since they had to deal with a strictly centralized system. Practice has shown that the unified church government in the Soviet totalitarian society from the late 1920s and 1930s more suited the secular authorities than it helped the church hierarchs to resist their pressure”.[34]

When the hawk pounces, the flock scatters, but gathers back together after the attack. God has ordained it so for the birds. Are we less valuable to Him and will He not find a way to gather His people after the persecution ends? This is the survival distraction model. Perhaps, under the extraordinary conditions, the actions of the beloved canonical rules of our bishops should have been simply suspended: to forget about all “canonical restrictions” and to give the right to every pastor to minister at any point where he is approached and where he found himself – without any internal church “registration”. To forget about all the administrative and financial powers of the bishop, leaving for him one thing: the right to ordain, moreover, outside the boundaries of his diocese. Simply to trust the promise of the Head of the Church: where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am.

Before patr. Cyril was faced with a choice: to convince or to obey. In both internal church relations and “external relations” he chooses the latter. A sermon with the intonation of a “dominant”, which does not bestow, but compels, forces. And cleaves the air with the fist of his right hand, in time with his words.

The main error of this style is forgetting that both in its essence and in relation to the circumstances of this century, the twenty-first, the faith of Christ can only be optional, voluntary, freely chosen.

Defining who “we” are is important to church self-awareness. And to understand that the church “we” is far from equal to the national and civil “we”. To understand that “we” as Orthodox will never be universal again, that “we” will no longer be able to achieve complete agreement among ourselves and submission of everyone to our views. Therefore, we must learn to live in a diverse world and find our audience. And, of course, this audience can be consciously conservative. For example, Amish or Old Believers live in the USA according to their own charters. It is their right. However, they do not impose their way of life and their opinion on the entire American society, they do not consider themselves the “voice of the nation”. And in Russia and Ukraine (and in the entire Orthodox world) there is an obvious dissonance: the Orthodox try to distance themselves from modern civilization at the same time, and at the same time claim the role of its moral and even political leader.

Attempts to regain the status of the leader and to prove the universal usefulness of oneself become a caricature reproduction of the saddest catastrophes of church history – a total replacement of the Main with the secondary. Everywhere and for quite a long time in church life (and in mine) this substitution has been going on: instead of the experience of the Kingdom – “Russian hockey championship”: “Field hockey is the only type of sport that is under the patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the final tournament for the Patriarch’s Cup, held on Red Square, has long become one of the most remarkable events in the sporting life of Russia”.[35]

The replacement of the Main with the secondary is a leitmotif in the speeches of military chaplains (regardless of position, rank and place of service), shamelessly crying that their “church serves Russia”.[36] In response, they heard from the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, the head of the Main Military-Political Department of the army, Andrey Kargapolov: “The Orthodox faith rests on love for the fatherland”.[37]

And in the end – the Orthodox faith will not rely on the foreign agent Yeshua. In the same interview, another general “wisdom” sounds: “The military is Orthodox, in the sense that it fights for justice.”

This reduction of Christianity to the level of a tribal religion and an imperial ideology is not simply a desire to please the superiors. I would very much like to say that this is someone’s personal bad taste or personal sin. Unfortunately, it can no longer be said that “we were oppressed, therefore under the pressure of the authorities…”. No – we ourselves. And with pleasure.

In the supposedly free year of 2017, it suddenly turned out that foreigners could not enter the church-theological graduate school, “because foreign citizens and stateless persons are not accepted to study in the educational program for the church-theological graduate school.

Once spoken, the gospel word should sear the conscience once and for all… No shock breakthrough? Nothing, then we will proceed to a long-term siege or preparation of “groups of influence”…

St. John Chrysostom begins his talks on the Gospel according to Matthew as follows: “Truly, we should not need the help of the Scriptures, but we should have a life so pure that instead of books, the grace of the Spirit serves our souls and as they are written with ink, even so our hearts may be written by the Spirit. However, since we have rejected such a grace, let us at least make use of the second way.”

So there are Christians of the first kind—whose “hearts are written by the Spirit.”

There are also Christians of the second type – they are those who do not listen to God within themselves, but hope to know His will through Scripture and its study (they are the ideal audience for the ideal missionary).

There is a third type of Christian – those who do not want to do theology seriously and devote a whole life to the study of the Scriptures or to prayer, but who do not mind devoting even a part of their time to religion. Icons, calendars, canons, typicons, church books appeared for such spiritually disabled people… It is because of them that the “special clothes” of priests and monks appeared, so that professional Christians could be recognized by the lamps and epaulettes, and not because “you have love among themselves”.

Well, what if religion isn’t inherently very interesting to people? These will be Christians of the fourth variety – in name only. And then there is one hope for the missionary: in a conversation about non-religious topics, to arouse interest and confidence in himself, so that he can then answer a religious question that happened to arise on his own.

Indeed, to turn the religious life of mankind into a zone of total profound wise silence about the Main and the Unattainable is not the way either. We should not neglect the little ones. We must also consecrate the cabbage garden, and the well the mole fell into, and the new car. We must keep the conversation going both about the weather and about feeding the geese…[39] “Are you not interested in knowing about Golgotha ​​and the empty tomb? Well, nothing, then let’s talk about the education of children, about the horrors on television, about the harm of drug addiction…”.

This is inevitable. However, we should not present the palliative economy as the very essence. Christ has long since disappeared from the agenda of the “Christmas Readings” (there is more and more talk of “The Great Victory”). On the occasion of the second millennium of the Nativity of Christ, our church was unable to publish a single book about the Jubilee.

That is why such missionary projects appear:

“In the state circus of Udmurtia, there was a performance in which animals took part in clothes with Nazi symbols. The circus stated that the event was ordered by the Izhevsk and Udmurt Diocese. Trainers dressed as Red Army men bring on stage a monkey in a Nazi-like uniform and goats with swastikas on their sacks. The performance of trainers in Soviet military uniform, together with animals bearing Nazi symbols, is used not simply as an image of the victory over fascism, but in itself is a trampling and worldwide condemnation of the ideals of Nazi Germany,” the diocese comments. “. [40]

Well, yes, at Christmas there is nothing else to talk about with the children… And Whose Christmas is it? Maybe on “The Great Victory”?

Indeed, over the years, the words “church” and “circus” have become more and more synonymous…

Of almost all church activity it can be said, “It is not for Him.” And how can a conference be held on the topic that we are representatives of the Kingdom of God on the wrong earth? If we were the ones – it would be obvious even without conferences. The same can be said for missionary conferences. And for the lectures on asceticism and spirituality in the seminaries. Those who know are silent. And those who speak…

* For the first time, this translation was published in the journal Christianity and Culture, no. 5 (172), 2022, pp. 21-47; the text is part of the not yet published book Paradoxes of Church Law, which the author has provided in advance especially for his Bulgarian readers to dveri.bg (ed. note).

[1] The thanatology of the early Christians seems to be close to Tolkien’s ideas about the mortality of elves: an elf can be killed in battle, but he himself is immortal (more precisely, elves are conditionally immortal: they live as long the world lives, and Christians, of course, believe that they will outlive this world).

[2] Below – see St. Petersburg biblical scholar Archim. January (Ivliev):

“The apostle Paul throughout the First Epistle to the Corinthians seeks to correct the disorder in the church he addresses. The apostle openly and sharply writes that the services of the Corinthians do not at all deserve to be called the Lord’s Table. They take place in the private homes of wealthy Christians and are associated with the common dinner. The wealthy members of the Church come early, and eat and drink with what they have brought with them. The poorer Christians, slaves and laborers came later and found only pitiful remnants. The apostle is outraged by this situation. That poor people, even during the feast of the Lord’s Supper, should feel their dependence and subordination means humiliation of those who are brothers and sisters. The Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians that their behavior is strikingly contrary to the essence of the Table. The apostle is indignant that rich Christians are not tormented by remorse at all. Yet they provide the Church with their homes! They supply the bread and the wine! In their circles, it was accepted, for example, during professional holidays, that those who have more merit to society should receive more. Obviously, they have not yet grasped the basic truth of the Christian faith: people from different walks of life gather in the Church and they all have equal dignity, all deserve equal respect. When the apostle asks the rich whether they have no houses where they can eat and drink, he wants to tell them: in their houses they can behave according to their social position. But during the Lord’s Supper, the rules of the Church apply.

The close relationship with Christ also binds the celebrants themselves in a close fellowship. They become one Body. The apostle distanced himself from the Corinthian dreamers who thought that at that moment they were already living in the new reality of “perfection” and resurrection. They seem to transgress beyond the Cross. Because of them, the apostle adds his own interpretation to the text about the Last Supper: The Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of the Lord’s Death “until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Perfection is yet to come!

By the unworthy reception of the Lord’s Supper, the apostle does not understand the individual unworthiness of the individual Christian: this place is often so understood in later pastoral care. The Apostle Paul writes about specific things, about carelessness, about the lack of a sense of solidarity among the rich in Corinth, about their selfishness. He who offends the poor sins against the Lord Himself, for they are the brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Also, the examination of oneself in v. 28 is directed not to one’s own moral dignity in general, but very specifically to the love and respect of the poor. All this derives with inner necessity from the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, because this celebration is a memory of Jesus’ Sacrifice for people. To celebrate God’s solidarity with people and at the same time to behave in a non-solidarity way is an impossible contradiction, an absurdity and an insult to God (v. 27).

In v. 29, the Body of the Lord means not only the Eucharist, but also the Body of the Church. This shows that the situation in Corinth was absolutely intolerable and contradicted the essence of the Church by definition. Therefore, the apostle Paul thinks that the society of the Corinthian Christians is sick. They are not living as the Body of Christ as they should be. In v. 31 the apostle calls for critical self-examination. If the Church critically examines its behavior, it can avoid the condemnation of the Judgment of God. In v. 32, the apostle understands the cases of sickness and death as signs of the Lord’s judgment, which is already taking place in the present time. This judgment is intended to enlighten the Corinthians and call them to repentance so that they can be saved from condemnation at the Last Judgment of God (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5). In the Church there is no place for “pious selfishness” (From: Iannuariy (Ivliev), archim. New Testament roots of orthodox teaching about sacraments – here).

[3] “… you will not enter the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes” (Mat. 10:23).

[4] Bolotov, V. V. Lectures on the history of the Ancient Church, item 1, St. Petersburg. 1907, pp. 11-13.

[5] “… now get up, get out of this land…” (Genesis 31:13).

[6] See: Uspensky, N. “Anaphora” – In: Bogoslovskie trudy, 13, 1975, pp. 46 and 49.

[7] Poem by Anna Akhmatova from 1946 (trans. note).

[8] See: https://youtu.be/fcvqppwyuuQ.

[9] Statement of Mitr. Hilarion (Alfeev) – http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/2251597.html.

[10] “For it pleased the Holy Spirit and us not to impose any more burden on you, except these necessary things: to abstain from idol sacrifices and from blood, from drowning and from fornication, and not to do to others what which is not pleasing to you. By guarding against this, you will do well. Hail!” (Acts 15:28-29). This forbids the Jews to oblige the Greeks to be circumcised, and to keep the Sabbath and the kosher rule.

[11] Verkhovsky, P. V. “Politics and law in church affairs” – In: Tserkovnaya Pravda, 1913, 18, p. 531. Prof. Pavel Vladimirovich Verkhovsky (1879-1932) was a historian and jurist, a teacher at the Warsaw University, and then at the University of Don. In 1917 he was a member of the Pre-parliamentary Council.

[12] 1 Cor. 5:1: “Everywhere it is heard that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not spoken of even among the Gentiles, namely, that someone keeps his father’s wife.”

[13] Word of March 30, 2014: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/3614762.html.

[14] Prot. Dmitry Pashkov, lecturer at the Department of General and Russian Church History and Canon Law of PSTGU: https://web.archive.org/web/20220515140106/http://dysha.info/public/azbuka/6838-chto-takoe-cerkovnye-kanony-obyasnyaem-na-palcah-fomaru.html.

[15] See: Episcopal Succession in the Orthodox Church (Canonical Norm) by Prof. S. Troitsky. Prof. Dr. S. Troitsky is a lecturer at the University of Subotica: https://azbyka.ru/nasledstvo-episkopa-v-pravoslavnoj-cerkvi-kanonicheskaya-norma.

[16] “In the face of the Church, the state sees a reliable social partner, but at the same time considers that funds are needed to finance this cooperation, and we are trying to properly build our relations with the state in order to receive support from it” – Smolensk Miter . Isidor, http://smoleparh.ru/novosti/novosti-vazhnoe/2017/03/seminar-grantovyie-proektyi-kak-resursyi-razvitiya-initsiativ-pravoslavnyih-organizatsiy/.

[17] “Shoes that are bigger than your feet hinder you because they prevent you from walking. It is the same with the house, which is bigger than necessary – it prevents you from going to heaven” (Creations, 2, 1, SPb. 1896, p. 35).

[18] Sunday Adelaja (b. 1967) is a Ukrainian preacher of Nigerian origin, founder of the charismatic church “Embassy of God”. He has been repeatedly accused of financial and sexual crimes (ed. note).

[19] See: https://gorky-look.livejournal.com/216405.html; http://gorky-look.livejournal.com/71378.html.

[20] The chapter “Why there is no salvation outside the Church” in my book Gifts and Anathemas is devoted to the development of this thesis.

[21] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aId_zSn1Db0&feature=emb_logo.

[22] On 19.11.2020, Mitr. Hilarion, in an interview with the Not Yet Posner YouTube channel, said: “We have about four hundred thousand priests and over thirty-nine thousand of them have no problem with the church”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuHIwVK6eds&feature =emb_logo, 70th minute. From what has been said, it appears that the four hundred thousand are not the church, but something external to it. This formula can only be understood if by “church” we understand the “ruling class.”

[23] See: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4982452.html.

[24] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMpu2MjlFMU, 2 hours, 31 minutes, 20 seconds.

[25] See: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4982452.html.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Tuchkov is the head of the Sixth Department of the State GPU-OGPU, whose competence was the fight against religious organizations in the USSR. In the fall of 1923, he stopped by Hilarion’s (Troitsky) cell and offered him freedom in return for “certain favors.” Hilarion replies: “Though I am an archpastor, I am a hot-tempered man. Please come out. I might lose control of myself.” He never goes free. Another dialogue: after the death of Patr. Tikhon is brought miter. Cyril from exile in Moscow. Tuchkov kindly calls him a future patriarch and offers him “legalization”. “Evgeniy Aleksandrovich,” Kirill said calmly. “You are not a cannon, and I am not a projectile, so that you can shoot the Orthodox Church with me.” And until his death in 1944, he did not go free.

[28] Cited by: Safonov, D.V. “Testamentary Epistle” of Patriarch Tikhon and “Declaration” of the Deputy Patriarchal Custodian Mitr. Sergius: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/archiv/patrtikhon-zaveschanie3.htm.

[29] CA FSB RF, d. R-49429, l. 151-152.

[30] “I can speak with open condemnation of anti-religious persecutions. I don’t even think they would throw me in jail. I would just end my days somewhere in a monastery, as happened to one of my fellow bishops. To this day, I think with horror of what would happen to my flock if by my “decisive” actions I would leave them without communion, without the opportunity to visit the temple” (Patr. Alexius, Speech at Georgetown University on November 15, 1991) . By the way, miter. Alexius, in his capacity of managing the affairs of the sick patr. Alexius the First, quite helped that same “a fellow of mine” to end up in a monastery and fall from the chair. It is about an archbishop. Ermogen (Golubev). “Mitr. Alexius reports based on documentary data in the case of Archbishop. Hermogenes and on the basis of his statements, pointing out the damage he is causing to the Church with his activities, and in civil terms he is putting himself in a very uncomfortable position, in connection with which the members of St. The Synod feels a sense of deep sorrow”. Transcript of the hearing of the Archbishop’s case. Ermogen (Golubev) at a meeting of St. Synod of July 30, 1968 https://web.archive.org/web/20211102002307/http://portal-credo.ru/site/?act=lib&id=2199).

[31] “It was Filaret (Denisenko) who forced Lonya to write a denunciation to me in 1970. This denunciation is included in my sentence: “In the seminary where I studied together with Adelheim, he spoke out against the performance of the anthem of the Soviet Union and to songs praising the Soviet state. The persons who performed the hymn and the songs, Adelgeim called chameleons bowing to the power” (Case sheet 178, item 2)”: https://www.pravmir.ru/protoierej-pavel-adelgejm-iz-seminarii-menya -vygonyal-lichno-filaret-denisenko/. And the seminarian was sent to a camp for three years.

[32] In the Declaration of Mitr. Sergius of 1927 regarding “your joys [satisfactions] are our joys” has a clarification: “Any blow to the Union, be it a war, a boycott, some public calamity, or just a murder from around the corner, like that of Warsaw, is regarded by us as a blow aimed at us’. The Warsaw murder – this is the murder of Pinchus Lazarewicz Weiner (pseudonym of Piotr Lazarewicz Vojkov), the murderer of the royal family. “The verb ‘to shoot’ was his favorite word. He used it on the spot and off the spot, on every occasion. He always remembered the period of War Communism with a heavy sigh, speaking of it as an era that “…gave space to energy, determination, initiative.” Isn’t the loss of such a valuable staff a problem for the church? And the “successes of collectivization”, storytelling and dispossession – are all these successes, or are they precisely the “social disasters”? Against this background, the call of the patriarch to the clergy is especially touching and touching: “I call you to be honest!”.

[33] There is a lot of material here: http://pstgu.ru/download/1430915885.7_mazyrin_84-98.pdf.

[34] Firsov, S. L. Time in destiny. About the genesis of “sergianism”, St. Petersburg. 2005, p. 255.

[35] See: http://www.rusbandy.ru/news/7266/.

[36] More honest is the anti-gospel of Nepal. The state motto of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is clearly against the gospel: “Mother and country are more valuable than the kingdom of heaven.” It remains only to reach the finale of the Magic Compass trilogy: “… the kingdom of heaven is done. We will build a heavenly republic.”

[37] See: https://nvo.ng.ru/realty/2020-07-09/1_1099_church.html.

[38] See: http://www.doctorantura.ru/images/pdf/norm_doc/pravila_priema_aspir.pdf.

[39] One story from the 19th century is unforgettable for me: A woman stopped the Optina elder Ambrosius and said that she was hired by the landlady to herd the turkeys. The turkeys did not last, they died and the mistress wanted to fire her. “Father,” cried the poor woman through tears, “at least you help me.” I have no more strength left, I struggle with them myself, I see them more than my eyes, and they are dying. Mistress will kick me out. Take pity on me, darling.’ Those present there laughed at her stupidity – for such a thing to come to the old man. And the old man talked to her flatteringly, asked her how she fed them and, having advised her how and otherwise to raise them, blessed her and sent her away. To those who laughed at the woman, he said that her whole life consists of these turkeys” (Poselyanin, E. Starets Amvrosii. Pravednik nasheho vremne, SPb. 1907).

I will also note that the distance from the Trinity Council to the metropolitan chambers (thirty meters) in the Lavra of St. Mitr. Filaret (Drozdov) traveled in two hours. The people who came for his blessing did not allow him to go faster. And the Bishop was in no hurry.

[40] See: https://www.bbc.com/russian/news-55632831.

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