After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


Decline in Authority of MP in Russian Society

Vertograd No.92.4. "Rejection of the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate…" 
Tue, Dec 31, 2013 

Orthodox Journal
Newsletter No. 92, Tuesday, December 31, 2013. 19:35

ENGLISH VERSION: LEV REGELSON, religious historian and publicist: “Rejection of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by the society and the intellectuals from among the faithful may become critical”

LEV REGELSON, religious historian and publicist, the author of the famous book “The Tragedy of the Russian Church: 1917-1945“ published in Paris in 1977: “Rejection of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by the society and the intellectuals from among the faithful may become critical”

Portal-Credo.Ru: What events in Russia’s religious life in 2013 you would note as the most important ones?

Lev Regelson: A sharp decline in the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate (ROC) in the Russian society is related to the anti-human, aggressive and sanctimonious attitude of their clergy members. The final fiasco of the pseudo-imperial "Russian World" strategy, i.e. the de facto loss of the religious Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Moscow. Perhaps, this was the cause of a certain cooling of relationship between the authorities and the leadership of ROC. Some public criticism of ROC presently permitted on the TV is accompanied by the proliferation of anti-Christian sentiments, conspiracy theories, occult tendencies and apocalyptic threats.

Positive trends with some religious components include a certain growth of interest towards the monarchical form of government of the European type.

- Would the departing year go down in history as the one notable for new victories or, on the contrary, defeats in the fight for religious freedoms and liberal attitude towards religion?

- Here we see a double-sided picture. On one hand, the attempt to push the rule on the dominant role of the Orthodoxy through to the Constitution (meaning the ROC’s version of the Orthodoxy) failed. Public opposition to the plans to clericalize the society kept on growing. On the other hand, the process of the liquidation of the most significant sources of the "alternative" Orthodoxy continued. The confiscation of the temples of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) in Suzdal is almost over. Within the ROC itself the "demonstrative crackdown" of the unique parish in the village of Zaostrovye has been terminated.

- What are your expectations of the coming 2014?

- The year promises to be an alarming one and may bring about significant changes. The Ukrainain Orthodoxy would probably release itself from the control on the part of the ROC. In this context the autocephalous Ukrainian Church governed from a sole center would be established. Inside Russia the rejection of the ROC leadership by the society and the intellectuals from among the faithful may become critical. In this connection a substantial growth of the role and the expansion of the scope of the "alternative" Orthodoxy in all its branches – conservative and reformative ones – is expected.

I have uneasy expectations with regard to the Olympic Games with their maddening security measures. Obviously, there is something to be afraid of. Destructive natural calamities may occur in this region.

All this may result in the growing "degree of religiosity" accompanied by the growing mistrust towards the "state-controlled Church".

Intervied by Alexander Soldatov,

© Vertograd, 2004—2013.
To subscribe or unsubscribe, email  vertograd.news@gmail.com



GOC-K Metropolitan Pavlos of America (Astoria, NY) retires
 Archbishop Kallinikos, as Locum Tenens, shall administer the Metropolis until the election of a new Metropolitan

History of Europe, 6013 Years in Three Minutes
     A bit confusing, but interesting. (one has to frequently stop it, and to compare the dated time frame,  up at the top left corner, to the map).  Also, of course, the exact names of these nations or empires, etc., and the exact physical boundaries, & the exact dates of their  founding to their end dates, or when they were subsumed into other nations or empires, are a matter of debate. 
This is the changing map of Europe, over 6013 years up to this year of 2013 A.D.

Decree number 210

Decree number 210
Vysokopreosvyaschenneyshago John Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco.
15/28 December 1965 Svyaschmuch.Elevferiya, prep.Pavla Pechenegskogo.
On Christmas church services.
By order of the Metropolitan Filaret Vysokopreosvyaschenneyshago Christmas prayers are performed only by the style adopted by the Church. On other days, including January 1, new style, have prayers be served "before the good work."
Archbishop John. *
Orthodox evangelist. San Francisco. 1966. Number 1. 
* St.John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco (1966).

Feast of Holy Prophet Daniel

HAPPY NAME'S DAY for everyone named for the Holy Prophet Daniel!

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Youths

Whoever fears the true God
Is not afraid of men or demons.
The Lord rewards faithful servants
And guards them from every evil.
Among the lions,
Holy Daniel remained unharmed;
In the fiery furnace,
The Three Youths remained alive;
In the midst of the fire, they glorified God,
With an angel, God's messenger.
Like Noah in the evil world,
Like holy Lot in wild Sodom,
And like Joseph in decadent Egypt,
So Daniel in the middle of Babylon
Remained faithful and righteous
With three of his young friends:
Ananias and Azarias
And the faithful young Misael.
The tortures came and the tortures passed.
The martyred were gloriously glorified
In the Immortal Kingdom of Christ.


• Travel Photos [January 2012] St. Catherine's Monastery Mt. Sinai

• Vladyka Agafangel posted this on Internet Sobor
Russian: http://internetsobor.org/rptcz/tcerkovnye-novosti/rptcz/uptc-mp-izgoniaet-veruiushchikh-iz-khrama-v-berdianske-video

Imitation Orthodoxy Ubiquitous Today

"Behold of what a frightful undertaking [by the servants of Antichrist] we are the living and immediate witnesses!  By all means there is being conducted in the world a frightful battle against the faith of Christ, by a path of falsification and imitations."

Archbishop Averky
The Works of Archbishop Averky
Volume II
St. John of Kronstadt: Touchstone of True Orthodoxy

New Visitors to the Oatmeal Patch

Oregon Gray Jay

Email Hacked

Mark Kotlaroff's email has been hacked.
If you receive a strange email supposedly from him, don't respond.  


• Rusty Chevrolet 

• 12 Pains of Christmas

• Straight gym teacher fired by lesbian boss

• Noah's flood, recent research in Black Sea

Youth Conference Mountain View

With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Andronik of Syracuse and St. Nicholas, 
the 2014 Russian Orthodox Youth Conference will be held 
from Saturday February 15th to Wednesday February 19th 
on the premises of MVROC.

Preliminary Schedule
Forms PDF
Invitation as PDF

Sounding of the Fifth Trumpet

excerpt from book

The Apocalypse – In the  Teachings of ancient Christianity
Archbishop Averky & Fr. Seraphim Rose
pp. 151-153

The Sounding of the Fifth and Sixth of the Angelic Trumpets: 
The Locusts and the Army of Horsemen

9:1-3  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth; and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit.  And he opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.   And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

St. Andrew of Caesarea by this star understands an angel for the chastisement of men, by the "bottomless pit" he understands gehenna, and by the locusts he understands the worms of whom the prophet said, Their worm will not die (Is. 66:24); the darkening of the sun indicates the blindness of soul of men.

"Of the star I think it is an angel of God; by God's allowance he leads out of the pit the evil demons who have been condemned, those whom Christ bound when He was Incarnate, so that they might do their work before the end and them be subjected to endless torment" (St. Andrew ch. 26).

On the binding of the devil and his loosing see below, Apocalypse 20:7; compare also John 12:31.

The smoke indicates the darkness which precedes the evil deeds done at their (the demons') instigation, after the performance of which they will be given authority to torment men.

9:4-5  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.  And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

According to St. Andrew the "five months" indicate the shortness of this chastisement, since, except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved (Matt. 24:22).  One may see here also a correspondence to the five outward senses, through which sin enters the soul of man.  And that these locusts "should not hurt the grass of the earth ... but only men is because the whole creation will be delivered from corruption, being now in bondage to corruption because of us" (St. Andrew ch. 26).

"And that the mental locusts sting men like scorpions signifies that at the end of evil deeds there is  hidden the death of the soul" (St. Andrew ch. 26).

"That death does not come even though men desire it, indicates that this depends upon the decree of God, Who by the bitterness of he disasters which are sent considers it profitable to make hateful to men the sin, which is the very cause and consequence of such disasters" (St. Andrew ch. 26).

This book is out of print.  I will lend out my copy by mail in the USA.

The icons in Archbishop Averky's book [black and white] are taken from an Old believer book. Check out the price!

Miracle of St. Nicholas

our ROCA Fr. Alexander in Vologda reports this miracle of St. Nicholas
... Миро действительно дивное, я сам могу
свидетельствовать, что получил исцеление болезни руки , по молитвам к св.
Николаю, после того как помазал больное место миром.

... Miro is really marvelous , I myself can testify that the
disease was healed hand , by prayer to St.. Nicholas , after anointed
the sore spot of the world.

Photos Sister Church In Bulgaria

Feast day of Prophet Habbakuk
Picture story

Bishop Photios tonsures a Reader in the Sophia Holy Dormition Cathedral
story told in pictures
Internet Sobor:


• Putin policy shames Americans for defending sodomy perversion

Archive: Word to Harbin Flock 1928

posted  February 8. 2007

(Matthew 13:9)

From the editor: While looking through certain journals of our extensive family library, I set my attention on the spiritual-moral Orthodox journal No. 4 from April 1 – 30, 1928, “The Heavenly Bread”, published by the monastery of the Kazan Mother of God, in the city of Harbin, China. This remarkable journal was published with the blessing of the Archbishop, and later Metropolitan Methody of Harbin and Manchuria, under the editorship of Archimandrite Juvenaly.

I became acquainted with Bishop Methody through the accounts of the pious father Archimandrite Polycarp, an elder wise in age and humble, who lived out his final days in the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, USA. Father Polycarp described Bishop Methody as a humble, kind, most loving, experienced, caring shepherd, the doors of whose home were open for everyone. The literary efforts of Vladika were deeply appreciated by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky).

In the fourth issue of the journal “The Heavenly Bread”, on page 35, is the profoundly heart-felt sermon of Vladika Methody, to which the Laurus Synod should pay particular attention as it shamefully grovels before the so-called Moscow Patriarchate.

If the declaration of metropolitan Sergius caused the Orthodox world to be shaken to its foundation, then the unification of the ROCA and the Moscow Patriarchate will annihilate the Church Abroad!

Protopriest Anatoly Trepatschko
June, 2005


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The bright days of the Holy Pascha of Christ are approaching.

We Christians know that the three-day glorious Resurrection of Christ was preceded by the suffering on the cross and the death of Christ. And now, as if in likeness of our Lord, the bright days of Pascha are preceded by the grievous days of an imminent grave ordeal. The Moscow church authority, which recognized the soviet power as a power from God, intends to appoint its own bishop to the Harbin see, who even here in our churches will have to proclaim the godless soviet regime from the church ambo, as a power from God, and proclaim that “the joys of the soviet regime must be the joys of the church, the sorrows of the soviet regime should be the sorrows of the church as well, and every blow dealt to the soviet regime, no matter from whence it proceeds, is a blow to the church” (from the epistle of metropolitan Sergius, dated July 16/29, 1927) and to recognize and be grateful to the soviet regime which “provided refuge to the church” and provided it “one of the conquests of the revolution – freedom from any political or state mission” (from the epistle of metropolitan Sergius, dated June 10/May 28, 1926).

A sorrowful sensation overcomes the soul. A bishop who blesses the regime which has trampled all Divine and human laws, which desecrates holy things, destroys churches turning them into places for revelry and dens of drunken debauchery, who reddened his hands with the martyrs blood of Hierarchs, clergy and the best sons of our Homeland, the Russian land! A bishop who is compelled to debase his lofty rank with servitude and servility before the godless authority, which needs him only as an instrument of destruction of the very faith which that bishop serves.

A sorrowful sensation overcomes the soul. A bishop who is forced to be hypocritical from the church ambo, to teach faith in God and expose godlessness, and with the same mouth bless and proclaim that the regime is from God – a regime which wages war against God with blood and violence, and appointed that same bishop with the sole purpose of sowing confusion and temptation into the souls of the faithful, thereby shaking and destroying their faith.

We will not judge that bishop, but we cannot permit our churches to become a place for the pernicious communist plague, disguised only by the holy place and name of a church; we cannot permit the divine services of our temples to be darkened by prayer for blasphemers, persecutors of the faith, and torturers. We cannot permit this.

But we will entreat the Lord, we will entreat His Most Pure Mother, that we be spared from the oncoming dark cloud of church turmoil and temptation, and that the Merciful Lord grant us mercy that we may greet and pass the bright days of the Pascha of Christ in spiritual joy.

Archbishop Methody of Harbin and Manchuria
March 12/25, 1928

(Translated by Eugenia Richards) 

GOC-K visits our Sister Church in Romania

Photo Report on Internet Sobor
Google machine translation

Fr. Vladimir Anderson memorial

Memory Eternal
December 16, 2010 †

Rev. Vladimir Anderson
May 29, 2007

--- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, "Archpriest David Moser" 
> > --- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, michael nikitin
> >nikitinmike@> wrote:
> >
> > 
> > Clergy of ROCOR(L) from different countries who did not accept
> > "Act of 17 May" and who joined Bishop Agafangel as of May 21,
> > 2007.
> > USA - Rev. Vladimir Anderson
> > ...
> > ,


> Just to point out how inaccurate this is - the only Rev Vladimir
> Anderson in the US is in our diocese and he has certainly not left
> ArchBp Kyrill and joined Bp Agafangel, or anyone else. There is 
> speculation amongst our diocesan clergy that there is a different
> priest in the area who might have made this move - but clearly 
> composed this list has faulty information (even though its in 
> on the internet). If there is one error, might there not be more?
> ArchPr David Moser


Dear Fr. David,

I beg to disagree with your "certainty" concerning Fr. Vladimir 
Anderson of the St. John the Almsgiver parish in California because 
he, in fact, has come under Bishop Agafangel. I just spoke to Fr. 
Vladimir on the phone, who was surprised that you would post such a 
comment, since you did not even contact him for verification. Bishop 
Agafangel is accurate and careful in his listing of the priests who 
have come under him.

I am posting this for Fr. Vladimir, because, as perhaps you are not 
aware, he does not have a computer.

Of course, I consider the events of the past several years to be 
unfortunate, but I know that there are people of good will on both 
sides of the issue, so it is important that exchanges on these 
issues remain civil, but accurate.

Thank you, 
Nadya Herbst

∞ ∞ ∞ • ∞ ∞ ∞

Fr. Gregory adds this testimony:
"I spoke with Fr. Vladimir shortly before the July 2007 faithful ROCOR remnant Sobor.  He told me he would not submit to the MP along with Bp. Kyril et al, expressed his regret that he could not attend the Sobor, and appointed me as his personal representative to it.  I had several further conversations with him between then, the last within a couple of months of the time of his repose; in none of them did he suggest that he had altered his position.  In the very last, he (and Matushka Sylvia) requested that I take possession of all remaining Eastern Orthodox Books materials.  As you know, that desire was thwarted by his children."     12/16/13

Protestant Rationalism And Its Fruits

Reader Daniel sharing

General Sharing: Interesting!: "Protestant Rationalism And Its Fruits" by Vladimir Moss

Comment: Though I do not agree with his every positional  article or point [such as some of his specific & oft erroneous views about the various  anti-MP jurisdictions and that area of more recent diaspora Russian church history,  etc.] produced by the learned and well read Professor Vladimir Moss in the UK, yet, I have to admit his broad knowledge and correct analysis of many Orthodox and cultural/historical issues, such as this article.  

This article rings true to me.  Here he touches on a set of deep & related subjects, some of the main religious/philosophical underpinnings of our modern Western Cultural outlooks and beliefs, [many of which are naive at best], and what is so wrong/incomplete/missing about our modern western culture and outlooks, especially from a traditional Orthodox understanding.

These daily-life/social/political/religious  realities, do also greatly influence Orthodox people, all over the world, whether we want them to or not.

But, just my perspective.........
Rd. Daniel in Oregon, the Dendrite, the Tree-Dweller

Written by Vladimir Moss

     The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 with the publication of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses against the sale of indulgences.  This practice was based on the belief that “as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs”.  The Reformation therefore grew out of reasoned protest against undoubted abuses by the Roman Catholic Church.  As Jacques Barzun writes: “The priest, instead of being a teacher, was ignorant; the monk, instead of helping to save the world by his piety, was an idle profiteer; the bishop, instead of supervising the care of souls in his diocese was a politician and a businessman.  One of them here or there might be pious and a scholar – he showed that goodness was not impossible.  But too often the bishop was a boy of twelve, his influential family having provided early for his future happiness.  The system was rotten…”[1]

     However, too many saw the solution of this malaise to lie simply in the throwing off of constraint.  They forgot that freedom does not by itself generate the knowledge of the truth, but rather the reverse: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 4.22).  And so the Reformation became, as Jacob Burckhardt said, an escape from discipline…[2]

     The Protestant escape from discipline manifested itself in three ways.  First, in escape from the obligation to do good works or practice asceticism – hence the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.  Secondly, in escape from the obligation to follow the conciliar conscience of the Church – hence the Protestant doctrine of the infallibility of the individual conscience and the individual’s interpretation of Scripture.  And thirdly, escape from the obligation to obey secular authorities, which we do not find in Luther himself, but in many more radical Protestants.  Taken together, these amount to the fundamental essence of Protestantism: escape from the law, from the Church and from the State – in other words, from all authority…

     Above all authority the Protestant places his own mind, or reason.  Now Protestant rationalism was born in the soil of Catholic rationalism, which consisted in placing the mind of one man above the Catholic consciousness of the Church, the Mind of Christ.  Protestantism rejected Papism, but did not reject its underlying principle.  Thus instead of placing the mind of one man above the Church, it placed the mind of every man, every believer, above it.  As Luther himself declared: “In matters of faith each Christian is for himself Pope and Church.”[3]

     And so Protestantism, as New Hieromartyr Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) put it, “placed a papal tiara on every German professor and, with its countless number of popes, completely destroyed the concept of the Church, substituting faith with the reason of each separate personality.”[4]

     The Russian Slavophile I.V. Kireyevsky compared Western rationalism and the Orthodox love of wisdom thus: “The main trait distinguishing Orthodox Christianity from the Latin confession and the Protestant teaching of the faith in their influence on the intellectual and moral development of man consists in the fact that the Orthodox Church strictly adheres to the boundary between Divine Revelation and human reason, that it preserves without any change the dogmas of Revelation as they have existed from the first days of Christianity and have been confirmed by the Ecumenical Councils, not allowing the hand of man to touch their holiness or allowing human reason to modify their meaning and expression in accordance with its temporary systems.  But at the same time the Orthodox Church does not restrict reason in its natural activity and in its free striving to search out the truths not communicated to it by Revelation; it does not give to any rational system or plausible view of science the status of infallible truth, ascribing to them an identical inviolability and holiness as that possessed by Divine Revelation.

     “The Latin church, on the contrary, does not know any firm boundaries between human reason and Divine Revelation. It ascribes to its visible head or to a local council the right to introduce a new dogma into the number of those revealed and confirmed by the Ecumenical Councils; to some systems of human reason it ascribes the exceptional right of ascendancy over others, and in this way if it does not directly destroy the revealed dogmas, it changes their meaning, while it restricts human reason in the freedom of its natural activity and limits its sacred right and duty to seek from a rapprochement between human truths and Divine truths, natural truths and revealed ones.

     “The Protestant teachings of the faith are based on the same annihilation of the boundary between human reason and Divine revelation, with this difference from the Latin teaching, however, that they do not raise any human point of view or systematic mental construction to the level of Divine Revelation, thereby restricting the activity of reason; but, on the contrary, they give the reason of man ascendancy over the Divine dogmas, changing them or annihilating them in accordance with the personal reasoning of man.

     “From these three main differences between the relationships of Divine Revelation to human reason proceed the three main forms of activity of the intellectual powers of man, and at the same time the three main forms of development of its moral meaning.

     “It is natural that the more one who sincerely believes in the teaching of the Orthodox Church develops his reason, the more he will make his understanding agree with the truths of Divine Revelation.

     “It is also natural that the sincere supporter of the Latin church should have not only to submit his mind to Divine Revelation, but at the same time also to some human systems and abstract mental constructions that have been raised to the level of Divine inviolability. For that reason he will necessarily be forced to communicate a one-sided development to the movements of his mind and will be morally obliged to drown out the inner consciousness of the truth in obedience to blind authority.

     “No less natural is it that the follower of the Protestant confession, recognizing reason to be the chief foundation of truth, should in accordance with the measure of his education more and more submit his faith itself to his personal reasoning, until the concepts of natural reason take the place for him of all the Traditions of Divine Revelation and the Holy Apostolic Church.

     “Where only pure Divine Revelation is recognized to be higher than reason – Revelation which man cannot alter in accordance with his own reasonings, but with which he can only bring his reasoning into agreement, - there, naturally, the more educated a man or a people is, the more its concepts will be penetrated with the teaching of the faith, for the truth is one and the striving to find this oneness amidst the variety of the cognitive and productive actions of the mind is the constant law of all development. But in order to bring the truths of reason into agreement with the truth of Revelation that is above reason a dual activity of reason is necessary. It is not enough to arrange one’s rational concepts in accordance with the postulates of faith, to choose those that agree with them and exclude those that contradict them, and thereby purify them of all contradiction: it is also necessary to raise the very mode of rational activity to the level at which reason can sympathise with faith and where both spheres merge into one seamless contemplation of the truth. Such is the aim determining the direction of the mental development of the Orthodox Christian, and the inner consciousness of this sought-after region of mental activity is constantly present in every movement of his reason, the breathing of his mental life…”[5]

     Protestant rationalism rejected the sacraments, and in general the very possibility that matter can be sanctified by the Spirit.  Icons, relics, holy water and all the symbols and ceremonies of Catholic worship were rejected and destroyed.  The sacrament of the Eucharist was not the Body and Blood of Christ, but only a service of remembrance, and there was no specially ordained priesthood.  Even the Bible was cut down to size.  Thus Luther reduced the number of canonical books, rejecting the so-called “apocryphal” books of the Old Testament and casting doubt on such New Testament books as the Epistle of James.  Moreover, it was from the Protestants (and Jews such as Spinoza) that the terribly destructive so-called “Higher Criticism” of the Bible began.

     Nothing was sacred for the Protestants, but only the disembodied, thinking mind of the individual believer.

     But in order to understand Protestantism we must go beyond the intellectual pride that it inherited from its Papist and Renaissance humanist predecessors to the emotional vacuum that it sought to fill – and filled with some success, although the new wine it proposed to pour into the old bottles of Christendom turned out to be distinctly vinegary.  For it was not their protests against the abuses of Papism that made Luther and Calvin such important figures: Wycliff and Hus, Machiavelli and Erasmus and many others had been exposing these abuses long before Luther nailed his theses to the church door in Worms.  What distinguished Luther and Calvin was that they were able to offer hungry hearts that no longer believed in the certainties of Holy Tradition or the consolations of Mother Church another kind of certainty – that offered by justification by faith alone, and another kind of consolation – that offered by predestination to salvation.  All that was necessary was to say: I believe, and the believer could be sure that he was saved!  Nor did he need the Church or the Priesthood or the Sacraments or good works to be saved.  For faith alone justifies, and all men are “priests for ever…  worthy to appear before God, to pray for others, and to teach one another mutually the things that are of God”.[6]

     Thus was Western thought directed along a path of ever-increasing individualism and subjectivism.  We can see this in the relationship between the teaching of Luther and the French rationalist philosopher René Descartes.  For Luther, the individual reason was the criterion of all truth.  For Descartes, the existence of this disembodied, thinking mind – a mind free from the limitations of space and time – was the first axiom of all knowledge: Cogito, ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am”.  From the existence of the thinking mind he deduced, not only his own existence, but the existence of everything.  Of course, since this was still a believing, Christian age, Descartes sometimes wrote as if Divine Revelation were a still higher criterion of truth.[7]  But the course of western philosophy after Descartes showed that, once human reason is given a place that is not fitting to it, it squeezes out Divine Revelation altogether.

     Descartes’ Cogito was only a desiccated, secularised and intellectualised reduction of the primary axiom of Protestant rationalism.  The difference between Luther and Descartes was the difference between theological rationalism and philosophical rationalism: the Protestant deduced the certainty of salvation from his personal faith and certain passages of Scripture, while the philosopher derived the certainty of his existence from his personal thought.  The one deduction was momentous in its consequences and the other was trivial; the one had an emotional charge and the other had none (or very little); but in other respects they were very similar.

     And so philosophical rationalism was born in the soil of Protestant rationalism.  Descartes would have been impossible without Calvin, and Kant – without Luther.  Just as Luther allowed the individual to define for himself what truth was, so Kant allowed the individual to define for himself what right and wrong was – for the “categorical imperative” was entirely personal and subjective.

     L.A. Tikhomirov wrote: “According to the Christian understanding, although man is by nature capable of a free existence and free self-determination, he does not have autonomy, nor does he presume to seize it (recognising that he is in the hands of God, and subject to Him), but carries out His commands and follows that mission which is indicated to him by God.  To declare oneself autonomous would be equivalent to falling away from obedience to God, to breaking with Him.  But if separated Christians were capable of that, it would be almost impossible to incite Christians as a whole to do this for a thousand reasons.  Of these the most important is that, in submitting to God, the Christian feels that he is submitting, not to some foreign principle or other, but to that which he recognises to be the Source of his highest capabilities, his Father…  The striving for knowledge, which is so powerful in man, is set on a firmer ground precisely when a boundary is clearly delineated between the Divine world, which cannot be known by reason, and the created world, which is accessible to experimental knowledge through the senses.  In making this delineation the Christian faith served both exact science and the spiritual life to an identically powerful degree…

     “It goes without saying that when the conviction emerged that the autonomy of man is real in some point of his existence, this naturally entrained with it the thought that autonomy is therefore possible and fruitful also in other respects, and this led to the search for new spheres of autonomy with a gradually increasing ‘liberation from God’.

     “In this way the original point of ‘liberation from God’ is rationalism, a tendency based on the supposed capacity of reason (ratio) to acquired knowledge of the truth independently of Divine Revelation, by its own efforts. In fact this is a mistake, but it is engendered by the huge power of human reason and its capacity to submit everything to its criticism.  And so it seems to man that he can reject everything that is false and find everything that is real and true.  The mistake in this self-confidence of reason consists in the fact that in fact it is not the source of the knowledge of facts, which are brought to the attention of man, not by his reason, but by his feelings – both physical and mystical.  The real role of reason consists only in operations on the material provided by these perceptions and feelings.  If they did not exist, reason would have no possibility of working, it would have not even a spark of knowledge of anything.  But this controlling, discursive power is so great that it easily leads man to the illusion of thinking that the reason acquires knowledge independently. This inclination to exaggerate the power of reason has always lived and always will live in man, since the most difficult work of the reason is self-control, the evaluation of the reality of its own work.  This self-control not only easily weakens in man, but is deliberately avoided by him, because it leads him to the burdensome consciousness of the limitations and relativity of those of his capacities which by their own character appears to be absolute.

     “To the extent that reason’s self-control reveals to him the necessity of searching for the absolute Source of his relative capacities and in this way leads to the search for Divine Revelation, to the same extent the weakening of self-control leads to the false feeling of the human capacity for autonomy in the sphere of cognitive thought.

     “It goes without saying that there always have been the seeds of this exaggeration of the powers of reason, that is, the seeds of rationalism, in the Christian world.  But historically speaking, rationalism was promoted by Descartes.  In principle his philosophy did not appear to contradict Christianity in any way.  The rationalism of Descartes did not rise up against the truths of the faith, it did not preach any other faith.  Descartes himself was personally very religious and even supposed that by his researches he was working for the confirmation of the truths of Christianity.  In fact, of course, it was quite the other way round. Descartes’ philosophical system proceeded from the supposition that if man in seeking knowledge had no help from anywhere, - nor, that is, from God, - he would be able to find in himself such axiomatic bases of knowledge, on the assertion of which he could in a mathematical way logically attain to the knowledge of all truth.

     “As… V.A. Kozhevnikov points out in his study of mangodhood, ‘the Cartesian: “I think, therefore I am” already gave a basis for godmanhood in the sense of human self-affirmation.’  In fact, in that all-encompassing doubt, which was permitted by Descartes before this affirmation, all knowledge that does not depend on the reasoning subject is rejected, and it is admitted that if a man had no help from anyone or anything, his mind would manage with its own resources to learn the truth.  ‘The isolation and self-sufficiency of the thinking person is put as the head of the corner of the temple of philosophical wisdom.’  With such a terminus a quo, ‘the purely subjective attainment of the truth, remarks V. Kozhevnikov, ‘becomes the sole confirmation of existence itself.  The existent is confirmed on the basis of the conceivable, the real – on the intellectual…  The purely human, and the solely human, acquires its basis and justification in the purely human mind.  The whole evolution of the new philosophical thinking from Descartes to Kant revolves unfolds under the conscious or unnoticed, but irresistible attraction in this direction.’”[8]

     “The first step of the Reformation,” writes V.A. Zhukovsky, “decided the fate of the European world: instead of the historical abuses of ecclesiastical power, it destroyed the spiritual… power of the Church herself; it incited the democratic mind to rebel against her being above judgement; in allowing revelation to be checked, it shook the faith, and with the faith everything holy.  For this holiness was substituted the pagan wisdom of the ancients; the spirit of contradiction was born; the revolt against all authority, Divine as well as human, began.  This revolt went along two paths: on the first – the destruction of the authority of the Church produced rationalism (the rejection of the Divinity of Christ), whence came… atheism (the rejection of the existence of God); and on the other – the concept of autocratic power as proceeding from God gave way to the concept of the social contract.  Thence came the concept of the autocracy of the people, whose first step is representative democracy, second step – democracy, and third step – socialism and communism.  Perhaps there is also a fourth and final step: the destruction of the family, and in consequence of this the exaltation of humanity, liberated from every obligation that might in any way limit its personal independence, to the dignity of completely free cattle.  And so two paths: on the one hand, the autocracy of the human mind and the annihilation of the Kingdom of God; on the other – the dominion of each and every one, and the annihilation of society.”[9]

December 2/15, 2013.

[1] Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 1500 to the Present, New York: Perennial, 2000, p. 11.
[2] Burckhardt, Judgements on History.
[3] Martin Luthers Werke Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Weimar, 1885, 405, 35. Quoted by Deacon John Whiteford in ORTHODOX@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU (Orthodox Christianity), September 6, 1999.
[4] Archbishop Hilarion, Christianity or the Church?, Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1971, p. 28.
[5] Kireyevsky, “Indifferentizm” (“Indifferentism”), in Razum na puti k istine (Reason on the Path to Truth), Moscow, 2002, pp. 88-91.
[6] Luther, On the Liberty of the Christian.
[7] Thus he wrote in The Principles of Philosophy: “Above all else we must impress on our memory the overriding rule that whatever God has revealed to us must be accepted as more certain than anything else. And although the light of reason may, with the utmost clarity and evidence appear to suggest something different, we must still put our entire faith in Divine authority rather than in our own judgement.”
[8] Tikhomirov, Religio-filosofskie Osnovy Istorii (The Religio-Historical Foundations of History), Moscow, 1997, pp. 472-474.
[9] Zhukovsky, “O stikhotvorenii ‘Sviataia Rus’” (“On the Poem ‘Holy Rus’”), in V.F. Ivanov, Russkaia Intelligentsia i Masonstvo: ot Petra I do Nashikh Dnej (The Russian Intelligentsia and Masonry: from Peter I to our Days), Harbin, 1934, Moscow, 1997, p. 74.

Holy Prophet Habakkuk

Excerpt of Homily 
by Protopresbyter James Thornton

The Holy Prophet Habakkuk, one of the minor prophets inasmuch as his book of Holy Scripture is short, lived during the late seventh century before the Birth of Christ.  In addition to his book, he is mentioned in the Book of Daniel, where the account of his miraculous journey to bring food to the Holy Prophet Daniel during his captivity in the lions’ den appears.

Saint Habakkuk observed the rise of the Babylonians and was well aware of the imminent threat they posed to the Kingdom of Judah and to the blessed city of Jerusalem.  Moreover, as a Prophet of God, he fully perceived that the conquest of Judah would be God’s punishment for Judah’s gross infidelities, that is, for her dabbling in paganism and superstition, and for the avariciousness and concomitant injustices that had become rife in Judean society.  Yet, the Holy Prophet was puzzled, and he expressed his several concerns to God, which he transmits to us in a dialogue between himself and God.

The book opens with the words, “The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.”  The revelation of God, the ongoing revelation which is the life of a Prophet of God, St. Habakkuk describes as a burden.  To know the dark future, and to be summoned by God to tell others of that coming time of darkness and of God’s wrath towards the guilty, indeed is a burden that lies heavily upon the heart.  It must be done, God must be obeyed, but it is far from a happy obligation.

The Holy Prophet asks God how He can so long tolerate the wickedness, corruption, and oppression that had taken hold of Judah: “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!  Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.  Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.”

God replies that the wicked and unjust among the Judeans will soon taste the bitterness of a terrible judgment, a judgment that will come from an invasion by the Chaldeans [i.e., the Babylonians], a “bitter and hasty nation,” whom He will send to reprimand His people and bring them to their senses.  For, God tells Saint Habakkuk, the Babylonians “are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.  Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.  They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.”  The Babylonians will act, God says, as His instrument of chastisement; they will be used by God to accomplish His purposes.

But Saint Habakkuk is still troubled since the pagan conquerors, while annihilating the cruel and oppressive from among the people of Judah and so winnowing the good from the bad, will bring cruelties and oppression of their own as they march forth, endlessly devouring nations.  God responds, instructing the Saint to write down what He says so that it may be precisely conveyed to the people of Judah and to their posterity.  The Babylonians, though for the moment the instruments of God, will nevertheless themselves receive a judgment appropriate to the evil they work.  Ultimately, they too will be laid low and humbled, while the remnant of the faithful among the Hebrews will be restored to freedom.  Hints of the coming fate of the Babylonians are then presented in a series of “woes.”

“Woe,” writes the Holy Prophet Habakkuk, “to him that increaseth that which is not his!”   And he continues: “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high….”   “Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!”   “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also….”  And, finally, “Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach!”

In other words — and this all refers to the Babylonians, typifying their conduct and their ways — woe to those who rob others and accumulate riches dishonestly or by violence: woe to those who are consumed by boundless greed: woe to the those who commit numberless murders and tyrannize their fellow man: woe to those who propagate sin among their neighbors, debauching them: and, woe to those who worship lifeless idols of wood and stone and imagine that some good can come out of them.  Woe to them because, in God’s good time, they too shall be struck down.

The Holy Prophet grasped God’s wishes and His objectives and was therefore pleased with God’s response to his questions; although it meant a period of suffering, still, in the end, it meant Godly purification and redemption. Saint Habakkuk sings God’s praises, ending his short book with the words, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

The first lesson we learn is that what appears to be dumb fate is not that at all.  God will use temporal entities, like the Babylonian Empire, to direct history as He desires.  God is the Master of the historical process.  He was that in the time of Saint Habakkuk, He is that today, and He will remain that until the End of the Ages.

The second lesson we draw today involves the five woes of the Holy Prophet Habakkuk, which were aimed at the Babylonians, but which have a much broader application, an application to men and women in general, that is, to all of us here today. We are told, “Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his!”  If we are guilty of accumulating wealth dishonestly—even if our means may be technically legal—then we incur God’s displeasure. Additionally, if we fail to share our accumulated wealth with the poor, then, likewise, we stand under God’s judgment.

Then we read, “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high….”  Any of us who are covetous, — and you will remember that that means greedy — who are prideful, who place money or material goods first among our priorities, higher than our spiritual welfare or duties to God, will obviously fail to win eternity with God.

the rest of the sermon:

Speaking of this century, our present times, the Prophet Nilus says that "... So it is during the time before Antichrist, all will think  much about themselves, and aside from that will censure one another.  The usurer [banker] will blame the poor  ... he will take everything the poor man has by taking him to court to receive his interest  ... Due to avarice the salvation of mankind is imperiled by dangerous destruction.  This, cursed avarice, will finally destroy the world's well-being ... and misfortune will reign everywhere ... the whole world is in confusion from the curse of avarice.  Avarice is the forerunner of Antichrist..." 

Prophet Habbakuk says:
“Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also….” 

Prophet Nilus says:
Blessed is he who will endure everything the usurer does to him...
The poor, seeing that the usurer tortures them, will also begin to save and accumulate money as a reserve to pay the usurer, and in so doing, he himself will be seduced by greed...  
(Ray of Light, pages 72-74)