Dr. Sergey Zagraevsky
NEW CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY
original was published in Russian: ALEV-V Publishing House,
CHRISTIANITY AND THE PRESENT
The author of this book may be asked a quite appropriate question:
– “Why do you refuse of the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures” so uncompromisingly? In our time, not so much people speak seriously about God’s or the Holy Spirit’s bidding of either dogma. It is clear that in the early Middle Ages a sharp political struggle took place, and these dogmas were forming during that struggle.
And the Church acknowledges the presence of that struggle – it is examined minutely in all Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant theological books, both in scientific and in popular ones.
But, in essence, if there is one God or three “one in being”, what is the difference? The “Trinity” has already completely accreted with traditions of the major Churches, and this dogma is perceived by the majority of people as an organic and integral part of these traditions.
For example, if we speak about the “Russian religious Renaissance”: not only priest Pavel Florensky but also quite temporal philosophers – Vladimir Solovyov, Vasily Rozanov, Nikolay Berdyayev – unconditionally accepted the dogma of the “Trinity”, and Lev Karsavin created his view of human personality fully on the basis of this dogma. And as regards “one in being” of Christ and us, Vladimir Solovyov in the end of the 19th century elaborated the teaching of “Godmanhood”, conveying the potential ability of people to become of the same nature with Christ.
Philosophers of the “Russian religious Renaissance” expanded the concept of “theosis” (“godifying”), which was used in the Middle Ages only concerning canonized people. So, in principle, each of us can become almost such as any “hypostase of the Trinity”.
So why should we break lances in the struggle against
the “Trinity”? Thank God, the Orthodox, Catholic and
This question is quite serious, and we shall need an entire chapter to answer it.
But first of all, I would like to notice that I am
going to “break lances in the struggle” neither against the “Trinity” nor
against the Orthodox, Catholic or
And now I am in to explain, why I have shown that the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures” are antiquated and need a radical reconsideration.
Let us cite a very extensive and very showy quote of the book of Lev Karsavin “About a person” (all italics belong to Karsavin):
“A hypostase is a true person (but not a personage!). But an hypostase is God’s person; and if we call patiently God’s Hypostases by God’s Persons and even God’s Faces, we feel uneasy, when someone begins to call a human or created person by an hypostase. – That is blasphemously and incorrectly. And, undoubtedly, it is connected with that in the Godman (Christ – S.Z.) there are two natures and two ousies (and that is why – two energies, two will, two “souls”), but only one person – the Hypostase of Logos, which, of course, is not something third between God and a human and does not differ from God, but it is God himself.
Then, the Godman in His humanity is a person only because He is in God’s hypostase (enypostasis), is connected with God’s Hypostase and God, possesses God’s Hypostase and God as himself. But since the Godman is a perfect human, it is impossible to assume that there is nothing peculiar to a human in Him, and there is anything besides peculiar to the Godman in a human. Consequently, in the strict sense, there is no human or created hypostase or Person, and can not be any; but if we speak about a human person, then only in terms of God’s Hypostase or Person, which is possessed by a man and is connected with a man. And what else may be, if God’s Hypostase is a true person, and two persons can not be true both?
So in God, we find unity, which is higher then an individual person, since He is three-hypostased, and that unity must be called personal, since hypostase’s being is not outside His ousia and is not opposed to it, being a form of its existence, and He himself is personal God. By that the acknowledgement of an individual person as the only specific-personal being is eliminated as a deceiving, i.e. any nominalism is denied, and, on the contrary, the reality of symphonical-personal being is affirmed. And by that, the structure of an individual person itself is affirmed as multi-unity. But, acknowledging God as the only true person, we must understand a human and generally created person as God’s Hypostase or as God’s name, which belongs to a human. From this, the necessity to understand a human specially results, exactly – to understand him as a created impersonal substance, which is similar to God in its indeterminability and inconceivability, and is quite self-movable. The sense of a human and created being will open then as his “personalization” or “godifying” (theosis).”
The end of the quote.
Let us note that there is an attempt in the quoted fragment to make the dogma of “two natures” more logical by acknowledging only one “true person” – the divine – in Christ.
What heresy does it resemble? Of course, Monophysitism.
One important thing more. By Karsavin, a human is a “created impersonal substance, which is similar to God in its indeterminability and inconceivability”, and the sense of his being is the “personalisation” or “godifying”.
Doesn’t it look like the teaching of Origen about the “preexistence of souls” and the divine nature of people, which was declared a heresy at the 5th Ecumenical Council?
It looks like that.
As a result, however hard you try to “live in peace” with official positions of the major Churches, any attempt to coordinate medieval dogmas with contemporary common sense will lead to the situation that “everything new is forgotten antique”. To put it more precisely, forgotten antique heresies. And Churches’ officials will not thank you, will not accept your point of view and will not elaborate a new dogma on its base.
And by this way you will never reach common sense – even Christ said: “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish” (Matt. 9:17).
Unimaginable intellectual stratifications turn out in the upshot at that approach, and the quoted philosophic text of Lev Karsavin is not the most complicated and unreadable among all texts, which were written on this subject.
Consequently, we must look for a spiritual base exclusively in the sources of the Christian teaching, when there were neither Orthodoxy nor Catholicism nor heresies, but only Jesus Christ, Apostles and the New Testament.
And since, as we have shown, there were no dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures”, we shall have to do without them. They can help us by nothing, but can impede us greatly. We have just seen in what a tight corner Lev Karsavin found himself because of them, so let us better learn by somebody other’s mistakes. As it is often said, we shall have time to make our own mistakes.
Nobody did without mistakes, but Christ also made
them! Let us remember only his main mistake that it was necessary to preach
And Jesus’ doubts (Matt. 26, 37-39)? How is it possible to connect then with the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “Son’s one in being with the Father”? Was it possible that the “second hypostase” in the night before the arrest prayed for the “first hypostase” to “let this cup pass”? Very strange relations, unworthy of the divine all-knowing persons... And it is interesting, what was the “third hypostase” doing at that time?
But let us not laugh at medieval deceivings.
It is only a pity that they still dominate in all the major
And the “Trinity” can remain the same exclusively philosophic category and historical fact, as, for example, “Sophia – God’s Wisdom”. The latter, as we have seen, also had no convincing basis in the Holy Scripture, and the Churches refused of the cult of “Sophia” even in the beginning of the second millennium. Nothing terrible happened at that, and Christianity did not perish.
Let us note that in the 20th century not only
philosophers of the “Russian religious Renaissance” remembered about “Sophia”.
We all remember about it – the Cathedrals of Sophia in Constantinople,
But dogmas, which have no convincing base in the Holy Scripture, may not be a base of Christian religion.
If the absence of a convincing base in the Bible had been the only argument against the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures”, it would have been possible to accuse me of dogmatic conservatism. But the non-acceptance of these dogmas has other aspects, beside the theologian.
We have already examined the historical aspect and have seen how these dogmas were formed in the early Middle Ages and to what bloodsheds these dogmas led. However, this is no wonder – the absence of the orientation toward the moral imperative inevitably leads to the escalation of “social” evil.
So let us examine the social aspect of the problem.
All the major Christian Churches consider that if Christ “is the Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9), has the power of judgement (Rom. 14:10), is the “addressee” of calls (1 Cor. 1:2), the source of grace (Rom. 1:7), the source of salvation (Rom. 10:9) and the founder of the Church (1 Cor. 5:4) then all that is the appearance of his divine nature.
But, firstly, a cause and an effect are transposed again – Jesus obtained all said, having ascended into heaven and sit on the right hand of God, but that says nothing about his origin and nature.
Secondly, Apostle Paul referred all that to the messianic role of Christ, and the Messiah, as we know, means “Anointed by God”, i.e. that is a human, who was endowed by God with some special power, rights and abilities.
We have already examined all that. Another thing is interesting.
The medieval Churches, having transposed a cause and an effect, in accordance with the dogma of the “Trinity” gave the primordial divine nature, which was different from the divine nature of all people, to the Anointed One, and that was quite convenient for earthly kings of all times, who were also “anointed by God”. It was insufficient for kings, tsars and emperors to imagine themselves equal to the Messiah, they wanted to be equal to God.
An analogy with Caligula suggests itself. This emperor, as it is well known, ordered to set his head (together with nimbus) to all statues of pagan gods. It is not a joke about the nimbus: it moved to Christian images from statues of Roman emperors, and statues needed it (in the form of sharp-ended rays) to avoid the sitting of pigeons and other birds on august heads.
Well, almighty emperors could establish any cult and order any statues. All that would have been half the trouble, but the “feedback” began – Christ was interpreted in the Middle Ages not as our defender, but as a punishing dictator.
After all, the cult of the “Blessed Virgin” became so popular among people not accidentally – she was to defend us in the face of Christ! Someone was to be “kind” in the mind of people, hence there is a great number of icons devoted to “Virgin Mary”, magnificent celebrations of her life events, prayers addressed to her etc.
I am sorry but it is not serious – a “kind mother” brings an “evil son”, who aspires to send us into hell, to reason...
And these paradoxical people traditions are not a fault of Jesus’ teaching. These traditions follow quite logically from the aspiration of the medieval Churches to unite the concepts of God, Christ and king.
Of course, in the 21st century it is wrongfully to accuse Catholicism and Orthodoxy of that in the Middle Ages any almighty emperor was admitted as a god. Another thing is strange: of whom are the Churches afraid today?
Disregarding the simple and accessible teaching of
Jesus and the Apostles, the major
A very depressing and, I hope, unjust conclusion arises: the Churches are waiting for new dictators to declare them gods and to leave citizens at the rank of “sinful creatures”. This conclusion, which arises through a fault of medieval dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures”, is harmful both for Christian religion and for any Church.
But, unfortunately, for the time being we see the accuracy of this conclusion, with an example of the relations of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian authorities. Closing of a Church and a state leads to fruitless attempts of “sanctifying” of people who does not deserve that. It may have no form of “anointing”, but the essence does not change.
But it is impossible to serve both God and a president. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).
The non-acceptance of the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures” has also a cosmological aspect.
Both the Orthodox and Catholic dogmatics were forming in the times of Ptolemy’s geocentric system, which affirmed the oneness of the earthly civilization in the Universe. But today, disposing of an incomparably greater extent of knowledge about the Universe, we have to assume that rational and spiritual forms of life exist somewhere else. Moreover, that not all forms of life are humanoid (anatomically analogous to a human).
Speaking about the moral imperative, which comes from God, we can assume, in a quite firm belief, its action in any rational form of life. But the Church dogma of “God the Son’s becoming a man” looks very strange under the conditions of extraterrestrial civilizations.
Of course, it is possible to assume that “God the Son”, choosing his physical form and the way of execution, took into consideration the specificity of either civilization, and he “became a man” in each by turn. But this sounds funnily and leads to a theological absurd. According to the most orthodox theological concepts, exactly the torments of Jesus became expiatory for the humanity. And if these torments became one of episodes of a long “tour” by different civilizations, then both the oneness and meaning of Christ are lost.
The following supposition looks much more logical and convincing: on other planets, some local preachers teach good and love, and every civilization goes to the understanding of God and to the triumph of the moral imperative by its own way.
This conclusion is very important for us, because on the Earth we see some major (so called “World”) religions, which look for their own ways to the triumph of good and love.
If we want to call ourselves Christians, we have no right to consider Buddha or Muhammad lower or higher than Christ. Buddhists have their own spiritual way, Islamists – their own, Christians – their own, but the goal (under the conditions of conscientious interpretation of these teachings) is the same – making the life on Earth better and the triumph of the moral imperative.
All the said also concerns different Christian confessions.
The building of the
In view of the foresaid, let us note one more aspect of the contradiction between the dogma of “Trinity” and torments of Christ – the moral.
The point is that Christ as the “second hypostase of the Trinity” is not understandable intuitively for a modern human and, therefore, is perceived separately of the moral basis, which is usually situated in human subconsciousness.
But the strength of Christianity, as we have shown, is that it is the most full and adequate expression of the moral imperative. Moreover, millions of little-educated people have no moral alternatives for Christianity, and the separation of Christianity from morality means for them the loss of all spiritual “reference points” and leads to the escalation of “social” evil.
The death of Christ is interpreted theologically as the expiations of our sins, but Jesus as a man died for his teaching and gave us the example, how strong the thirst for good and love may be, if it is possible to accept a painful death for it.
And if Christ is not a man, but “God the Son” or the “Godman”, then what is the example?
The opinion of the theologians of the major Churches, that
“God the Son’s” tortures were to be much stronger than tortures of an
“ordinary” human, completely corresponds with the traditional humiliation of
people by the Orthodox and
And it turns out that the overwhelming majority of modern people may think (and think) the following: “Christ is God the Son, so let him preach good and love and die on a cross for that. There are no problems for God to hang some time on a cross and resurrect, and what must we, more mortals, do? Let us better do somehow without good and love...”
And a man comes to a church, listens to an unintelligible set of motets – and that is all. What can reach his ears?
But if Christ’s image could be made understandable for everyone! If preaches of good and love could sound more often, firstly in many hours of broadcasting, which are placed at Churches’ disposal by TV companies! If, for example, the Pope and the Patriarch could periodically address themselves to believers with appeals to extirpate the drug addiction, alcoholism, corruption and other social vices, and to governments – to stop some new “local war” and hasten the process of disarmament!
May be, then something would have improved in our life? What a great strength Christian spirituality is, and what a pity is to see how it is dissipated for medieval ceremonies...
So, no complication, but the highest possible simplification of the Christian dogmatics is necessary.
And the limits of this simplification are dictated by the Holy Scripture – by the document, which today (however, as during previous two thousand years) expresses the moral imperative most completely.
The usage of any other dogmatical scheme amplifies considerably the possibility of “social” evil.
Having examined the theological, historical, social, cosmological and moral aspects of the non-acceptance of the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures”, we can turn to Ecumenism.
The point is that the refusal of these dogmas may become the basis for integration of all confessions and for the creation of “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”.
Let us show the objective necessity of Ecumenism.
First of all, it is necessary to understand, why the presence of the word “Church” in a name of a religious organization (for example, “Roman Catholic” or “Russian Orthodox”) is by no means a synonym of the corresponding with the teaching of Jesus Christ.
For that, let us remember the devil’s temptations once more, this time all three.
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up...
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt you serve” (Matt. 4:3-10).
The official Church disliked deeply to remember these temptations, and the theologians of the nowadays’ major Churches try to disregard them. Why?
Not because this episode is a serious argument against the dogma of the “Trinity”: why did the devil try to tempt “the all-knowing and almighty Logos, God the Son, not made, eternally begotten”?
The major Churches do not like to remember these temptations because of their deep symbolical meaning. Let us look:
In the first temptation (to make stones bread), Jesus Christ refused of earthly welfare.
In the second (to jump off with the temple roof), – of “tinsel show”;
In the third (to rule earthly kingdoms), – of state power.
And a very unpleasant precedent for the majority of priests took place. Of course, they were to follow Jesus’ example and refuse of material welfare, “showy” devotions and earthly power, but they wished so much to live richly, to wear golden clothes, to rule states...
What were they to do? To rewrite two Gospels, having cut huge fragments about the temptations? That was unreal.
And the “salutary idea” for the major Churches was found even in the 4th century, and that was the “third hypostase of the Trinity”: if the Holy Spirit is such god as “God the Son” then he does everything what he wants.
For example, where is it said in the Gospels that the Holy Spirit must refuse of earthly welfare, kingdoms and other “useful” things?
And the “Canon law”? How much the Church wished that resolutions of Councils, Popes and Patriarchs were “rated” equally with the Bible! Naturally, even in the 5th century a “spiritual” interpretation of the “Trinity” appeared: the Old Testament (God the Father), the New Testament (“God the Son”) and the “Canon law” (the Holy Spirit). Wasn’t it “convenient”?
However, fruitless attempts to persuade the Church to follow the “inconvenient” way of Christ were undertaken time and again, and in view of that it will be useful to remember Donatism.
It was called in name of Donatus, the bishop of Carthago, was dated from Diocletian’s persecutions of the beginning of the 4th century, and its essence was that for any priest the personal infallibility is necessary, otherwise “holy acts”, which are committed by him, become invalid.
Naturally, that was not convenient for the overwhelming majority of priests. The Church hated Donatists, and Augustine managed to declare Donatism a heresy at the Carthago council of 411. The Council resolved that God’s grace acts independently of the sanctity of priests.
Of course, if it had not been done by Augustine, it
would have been done by someone else, but it turns out that Aurelius Augustine
was a culprit of a great number of priests’ abuses – since the Middle Ages
until our time. Veiled debauches, financial machinations,
political intrigues and many other things, to the extent of the Orthodox
Church’s “duty free” trade with spirits and tobacco goods in contemporary
The following “poetical” argument is usually cited against Donatism: a pipe may be rusty, but the water, which flows in it, may be clean. But we can say about this “poetical pragmatics”: it is unnecessary to be a plumber to know that in a rusty tube only rusty water flows.
But let us look aside poetry. Of course, it is impossible to make a human saint by any dogma. We perceive the world realistically and understand this very well. But if the Donatist idea of necessary personal sanctity of every priest had “hanged” over the Church hierarchs, it would have kept them from many improper deeds. Lay-men, even more so, businessmen live by their rules, but the Church is to live by other rules and give people, as far as possible, the same example as Christ gave: the disinterested devotion to the Christian life-work and the readiness to sacrifice everything to it. Even the life.
But all that is in theory. In practice, everything went by another way.
As we know, the Church obtained the status of a state organization in the 4th century. In the Middle Ages, the West followed the way of so called “Popecaesarism”, and the East – by the way of “Caesarpopism”. In the first case, priests tried to obtain state power, in the second – states tried to override priests.
Let us not conduct a historical review again – the situation with Roman Popes and East Patriarchs is well known. Let us just say that both “Popecaesarism” and “Caesaropopism” are not only the typical manifestations of “social” evil, but are disastrous for the Church. It is possible to prove that.
Our methodology “Caesar’s – to Caesar” says: the concept of a “state Church” is as absurd in essence, as the concept of a “good ruler”. The Church, at least ideally, serves God, and any state, as we know, belongs to the devil and serves him.
“Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).
And for that readers, who still consider our methodology to be abstract and alienated from life reality, let us explain the fatality of the concept of a “state Church” on our main “social” example – a wolf pack.
We have spoken about “lucky hunting”, which is the base of “social” evil. But let us look: are the relations inside a pack so unclouded? Isn’t the situation “Akela has missed” reproduced on each hierarchic level of society, where neighbors do nothing but look how to tear each other and take a higher place in the hierarchy?
So even the being in a wolf pack, with rights of its equitable member, guarantees neither happiness nor peace nor life. Moreover, it reduces the probability of the presence of the first and of the second and of the third.
The point is that, for example, a deer – a potential victim – can understand that it is unnecessary to come to places where a wolf pack roves, and that it is better to graze in difficult accessible bogs and to bring up young there.
But a wolf in a wolf pack may only dream about peace. And the probability of the death of that wolf is not less, may be even more, than of the said deer. Biologists would confirm this – predators have no enemies in nature, then, if they had not died in interspecific struggle then they would have multiplied innumerably.
Let us return to the humanity. It is understandable that the contemporary society does not love preachers and tries to crucify them quite evenly. But any Church, which refuses to serve God and “plays” according the state rules, sooner or later faces problems, which are no less serious: having meddled in hierarchic relations, the Church becomes an object of intrigues of “societymates”.
And there is a dismal situation, when, in the context of the struggle of “social” evil against the moral imperative, at first the Church together with a state crucifies preachers, and then the state, according to laws of “interspecific” struggle, “crucifies” the Church.
In the latter case, riches (in the form of money, property etc.) naturally become the main object of the envy of “neighbors”, and banal lawsuits begin. For “Patrimony of St.Peter”, for gains, for temples, for chapter-lands... For what the Church within two thousand years of its existence did not have lawsuits! What it did not obtain, what was not taken from it!
Those were social problems of the Orthodox and Catholics Churches during
centuries of their existence, the
As it is well known, Communists took everything from the Church in
It is unlikely that “expropriated” icons, chasubles, censers and chalices worth a great pity – thousands of priests, who were killed or died in concentration camps, deserve of much more compassion. But it is characteristic that Patriarch Tikhon was arrested by Communists in 1922 not for an ideological struggle against Marxism-Leninism, but for the resistance to the mass pillage of churches.
That is why let us remember Martyr Tikhon, but
let us feel sorry firstly about the fact that the policy of the Russian
Orthodox Church during the whole time of is existence lied in the “fairway” of
the state. Peter I, having abolished the Patriarchate in
So we establish the fact: in the beginning of the 20th century, there was no spiritual victory of Marxism over Christianity. There was a political victory of Bolshevik Party over other political parties and over the young Russian democracy. And the Russian Orthodox Church, having accreted with the state, shared the fare of the losers.
Bolsheviks in 1920s did not only separate the Church and the state, but
actually smashed the Church up. In 1939, only about one hundred opened churches
remained on the territory of the
But Stalin in 1943, having understood the necessity of a uniting national idea, permitted to open temples and seminaries, restored the Patriarchate, under the control of security services though. And the process of the interlocking of the Church and the state began again.
That process took hypertrophied forms after the falling of the
Of course, let a state at least outwardly base on Christianity than on Marxism or any other social utopia.
But on what Christianity? With the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures”, which are absolutely unintelligible for the majority of believers? With hopelessly antiquated stereotype concepts of hell and heaven, which cast doubt on the right of Christianity to express the moral imperative? With a number of medieval ceremonies? With the tough hierarchic structure?
Burning exposures are inappropriate in philosophic books, that is why let us just quote the interview of the Orthodox Archipriest Alexandre Men. He gave that interview to Serguey Bychkov in 1983. Men watched the situation in the Russian Orthodox Church “inside”, so it was more visible to him.
Question: “What are the main disadvantages of young priests?”
Answer: “First Christians called themselves disciples. Young priests are trying to become teachers as soon as possible. They do not aspire to the spiritual and intellectual growth. They stop in the complacency or the workmanship. The common life tightens soon, and the vicar conscience is suppressed by the complacency. They are deaf for problems of common people, especially of non-church ones. They look at everything from the narrow-bounded point of view. Our general accent on worship (which has become a “work” and takes a mass of efforts and time) is conductive to that. Even those who would like to serve “in Spirit and truth” often do not have time for anything other. A priest must have interests, which are connected to the “profession”, and the “profession” alone may bring to a dreadful routine”.
Question: “What is, briefly, in your opinion, the main tragedy of today’s Russian Orthodox Church?”
Answer: “In the nowadays’ situation two facts come into a tragic
collision. Alive latent interest of people for spiritual problems, a plenty of
spiritual demands, searches of truth and a great creative potential of
a) The faith in ceremonies;
b) Obscurantism (the non-receipt of cultural achievements – S.Z.);
d) The incapacity to answer the demands of people;
e) The complacency of a closed caste, which looks at everything “secular” with contempt;
f) Nostalgism – i.e. the belief that “everything was better earlier”. From this, the heading for the archaic forms of devotion is;
g) The separation from the Gospels and from the Holy Scripture in general.
This tragic collision leads to:
a) The spiritual decadence of people, who enter the Church;
b) The address of people to substitutes of faith (occultism, yoga, parapsychology etc.)
All this is aggravated by the pseudo-ascetic ideology of lazy-minded people, who, shaking by “Philokalia”, live much more abundantly than any non-religious intellectual.”
The end of the quote.
I would like to add: in ten–fifteen years after this interview, the
Russian Orthodox Church became one of the biggest suppliers of
A lot is said in the Holy Scripture about the Church. But about what Church?
Apostle Paul wrote to “the saints which are in
Thus, the Church is the global community of people,
who believe in Christ. So, in a symbolical way, Paul’s words about “Christ’s
body” are interpreted, and neither the Orthodox nor Catholic nor
And all other fragments of the Holy Scripture, which are devoted to the Church (Matt. 16:18-19; 18:17; Rom. 8:14-17; Acts 2:47 etc.), say about the global community of people, i.e. about that “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”, which is mentioned also in Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
Nothing is said in the Bible about any other Church.
“Seven churches”, which were mentioned by John the Evangelist, are only
The same concerns communities, which were called as “churches” by Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 7:17; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2 etc.)
It is not said in the Holy Scripture also that any
bishop is a “representative” of Christ – this dogma was elaborated in the
beginning of the 2nd century, and for the first time it is found in the works
of Ignatius of Antioch, who was an adherent of a firm hierarchy and a
“monarchic” episcopate. And God forbid any bishop to be Jesus’ “representative”
A phrase of Christ, which he said to Apostle Peter, is well known: “And I say also unto thee, Than thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church... And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound on heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:18-19).
It is most likely that the matter concerns the approval by Christ of all acts of Apostle Peter (probably, also of his successors). The Churches, naturally, do not dispute against this.
But a question arises: about what Church are we speaking (and Christ spoke)? About the Orthodox or the Catholic? And, may be, about the Protestant? Or about the Socinian? Or about “Jehova’s witnesses”? Or about the Adventists? And so on – it is possible to enumerate pretenders for Peter’s succession endlessly.
Moreover, what to understand as a “succession”? Peter was the first Apostle (Matt. 4:18), and it is quite probable that the building of the Church on “Peter-rock” meant the ascertainment of the fact that Peter was the first Christian. And then, doesn’t it mean that every Christian has the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” and the right to “bound and loose”?
On the other hand, it is possible to say that while there is no “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”, i.e. no global community of Christians, there will be no Church, about which the Holy Scripture says. And for the time being, nobody has the right to “bound and loose”.
But in each case, there is no matter in Matt. 16:18-19, which concerns either the Orthodox or the Catholic or any other Church.
And it is a pity that the said Churches (so as a number of sects) remember seldom the following words of Christ, which were said to his disciples: “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:8-11).
Let the ideas of Ecumenism – the integration of all Churches – nowadays look utopian. But in the historical perspective, they will triumph together with the moral imperative – as it is said, that is the will of God.
And that are not mere words. Without the integration
of the Churches (the Christian ones at the first point, and then the others),
it is impossible to avoid fits of international discord, and the matter can not
Many people consider that in the
We have said that a basis of the integration of all confessions and the creation of “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” could be the refusal of medieval dogmas and ceremonies. Now we can say more: the dogmatics of any religion must ideally keep within one line, which must be understandable for everyone and be the most full expression of the moral imperative.
Of course, religion is not only an expression of the moral imperative and not only the faith in God. Religion is a worldview of a human. But almost all aspects of any religion (nature of God, the creation of the world, the person and the teaching of Christ, the resurrection etc.) are described by either sciences, from philosophy and theology to history and physics.
And for an expression of the moral imperative and for its implantation in the mass consciousness, by the highest standards, one line is enough.
It is difficult to foresee, what line that will be. I am personally an adherent of Christ’s phrase “You should love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39), and in the following chapters, we shall have a possibility to talk about a colossal strength of these words.
But whatever that line will be, however this “super-Ecumenical” religion will be called – Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or somehow else, – its essence must be the same: the most full and understandable to everyone expression of the moral imperative.
And if people love each other and do not commit evil to each other without any religious dogmas (even that dogmas, which are kept within one line) – God grant.
And the sooner the major world Churches clear of medieval stratifications, which are an obstacle for the perceiving of the moral imperative, the better. That is why I am, in particular, oppose the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures” and by that, undoubtedly, incur anger of the majority of organizations, which have the word “Church” in their names and use the teaching of Christ in their aims.
For those organizations, Ecumenism is not only harmful for ambitions, but it is also an administratively abrupt form of integration (something like a compulsory confluence of corporations), and that says once more about the “social” orientation of these organizations. And the word “organization” itself is a product of the contemporary society, with all following consequences in the form of “social” evil.
We know what happened to the Archipriest Aleksander Men, a staunch supporter of ecumenism and a valiant critic of the official Orthodoxy. He was murdered. Unfortunately, he is not the first, he is not the last.
Sergey Zagraevsky © 2004