Category Archives: Archbishop Antony of Geneva

Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition Available Again

This anthology of 100 essays, first published in 1995 and now with a new foreword, is at last available again from:

frandrew_anglorus@yahoo.co.uk. 3rd Edition A5 495 pp.

Price: £15.00 + £2.80 p & p in the UK. Unfortunately, Air Mail to the USA is now £12.85 (surface post, which can take up to two months, is £8.00). Please make payments by Paypal button from the website: www.orthodoxengland.org.uk

From the Back Cover

Today many search for an Undivided Christendom and the traditional teachings of the Early Church, which go beyond the latter-day divisions and disputes of Roman-Catholic, Anglican and Protestant. And amid the chaos of recent years many have discovered the Orthodox Church and Her Faith, drawn from the first millennium of Christianity. In this book the author, an English Orthodox priest, looks at the authentic Orthodox Faith, beyond the historical and cultural vicissitudes surrounding it, and pinpoints its relevance to us. He writes: Orthodox Christianity is the Faith revealed to the repentant in their quest for the Holy Spirit. Should we accept it, we would thus accept the struggle for the Holy Spirit; and in so doing we would accept the struggle to build Jerusalem here, ‘in England’s green and pleasant land’.

Foreword to the Third Edition

For we hope that the Lord will deliver Russia and the Russian people from the dread years of evil which have now lasted for 70 years. Russia can be reborn only through the repentance of the Russian people, through faith in God, through living the Divine commandments. Therefore the rebirth of the Russian people – the rebirth of personal, social and national life – must be founded on the Holy Orthodox Faith and their life must be built on this. And then once more, as of old, Russia will be Holy Rus, the House of the Most Holy Mother of God.

Prophecy of the Ever-Memorable Archbishop (later Metropolitan) Laurus (1987)

All my life I have been haunted by the European world that was lost by the consequences of the tragic events and sacrifices of August 1914, now exactly 100 years ago. Growing up with nineteenth-century grandparents and great-uncles who had fought in the First European War and with tragic maiden great-aunts, I knew that all of us had to live with those consequences. There has been no peace in the world since then, since the profound injustice of the victory so cruelly and ironically snatched from the Russian Empire in 1917 by Allied treachery and then the German treachery that made the slaying of the Russian Royal Family inevitable. And that, in turn, made the destruction of Germany in the Second European War inevitable, with Russian troops taking Vienna and Berlin. And that, in its turn, made the Cold War inevitable.

That War dragged on until 1991. Then the Slav, Romanian, Georgian and Albanian Churches all lived beneath the yoke of atheism and had virtually no free voices. As for the smaller and weaker Greek Churches, they were compromised by US control. Thus, the impoverished Patriarchate of Constantinople, at one time financed by Anglicanism, had come under US control in 1948, when Patriarch Maximos was deposed by the CIA with threats to his life and despatched into a generation of exile in Switzerland, uttering as he went the words, ‘The City is lost’.

Those were dark days of the betrayal of the Church and, virtually alone, the Church Outside Russia spoke on behalf of us all. For during the Cold War proud anti-Incarnational modernism and ecumenism (heresies, like sects and cults which are created by heresies, are always based on pride), in either their crass, pseudo-intellectual, humanist Protestant/Catholic form, as often in the US, or in their subtle, pseudo-spiritual, personalist Buddhist/Hindu form, as often in Europe, were everywhere. ‘Orthodox’ academic theology was then dominated by that spiritual decadence which may be called ‘captivity theology’. In its intellectualism that ‘theology’, ignorant of the Lives of the Saints, utterly failed to see that Orthodoxy is a striving for holiness, which is simply a life lived with prayer in conformity with the Tradition

This was the academic theology of ‘Orthodox’ intellectuals, who had studied either in Protestant centres (Oxford, Cambridge, Strasbourg, centres in Germany etc) or else in Roman Catholic centres (especially the Gregorian University in Rome, but also Paris, Louvain, Jesuit Fordham etc). The academics infected naturally reflected the proud cultural prejudices of those establishments where they had studied, resulting not in an Orthodox, but a ‘Halfodox’ vision of the world. An associated mixture of ecumenists, liberals and modernists, those intellectuals wished to reduce the Church to a mere religion, a theory and an institution, just like the Western denominations. This was, consciously or unconsciously, spiritual treachery.

Their ‘theology’, in fact philosophy, reflected the humanistic personalism and spiritually empty symbolism of that age. Most of those intellectuals have now died, if not, they are very elderly. The generation of disciple-imitators that succeeded them has even less conviction or talent. It is hardly surprising – modernism is incredibly old-fashioned in a post-modern world. With the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia, that age of decadence seems increasingly distant. I remember at that time, and I mean nearly 40 years ago, being told by an ‘Orthodox’ academic at one of those above-mentioned universities that if I was not satisfied with their food that did not satisfy my soul, I should ‘go and live in Russia’. During the Cold War that was not possible; therefore I took the next best option, to frequent the last emigres of the first generation of the White emigration in Paris and the Church Outside Russia.

This anthology of essays was written between 1974 and 1995, precisely at that time when the Church Outside Russia was isolated, indeed virtually besieged, under attack from all sides and from inside, by the extremes of modernism and ‘traditionalism’ alike. Indeed, as I came to realize, the Church Outside Russia was then one of the few points of freedom anywhere in the Orthodox Church. Figures in it expressed words of truth similar only to those of the lone Serbian theologian St Justin of Chelije, canonized in 2010, and other figures on the Holy Mountain and in the monasteries of the Carpathians.

Rejoicing in the canonization of the New Martyrs and Confessors in New York in 1981, when the Orthodoxy hierarchy was still paralysed in the homelands, at that time we also tried to reclaim for the Church the ancient holiness of Western Europe. We knew that all holiness can only come from the Church, as we daily confess in the Creed. Our task was to help gather together the remaining living spiritual and cultural forces of the dying West and to call it back to its roots in its ancient holiness that it had for the most part renounced. This desire is very much reflected in this book. Sadly, since that time we have seen the final death-throes of once Christian-based Western civilization, witnessing the disappearance of the old culture.

For after 1991, and with great speed, the demons that had operated in the atheist Soviet Union migrated to the atheist European Union, whose spiritual deadweight has been reinforced by the atheism of North America. Only a few years ago President Putin of the Russian Federation, made wise by the failure and defeat of atheism, warned the then Prime Minister Blair that demon-inspired atheism was literally a dead end; naturally, he was ignored, for deluded arrogance never listens to wisdom. Indeed, ever since 1988 the Church that President Putin belongs to, the multicultural and multilingual Russian Orthodox Church, 75% of the whole Church of God, has been reviving, re-opening or building three churches every day somewhere on the planet.

Together with it there is reviving the social, political and economic life of the Russian Federation, the Russian Lands (Rus) and even other parts of the Orthosphere. In 2007 in Moscow we witnessed the reconciliation of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church and the re-establishment of canonical communion, a long-awaited miracle of our times. Our great hope of 20-40 years ago for the messianic restoration of Holy Rus, so great that it was a belief, has been coming true through repentance. We have no illusions that we may not see our hopes for the full restoration of the Sovereignty of the Tsar realized, or, much less likely, Europe liberated from its self-imposed ideological yoke, but at least we know that we are on the way. There is much to do, very far to go, but the direction is the right one.

Nearly twenty years on now since the first edition, this book is here reprinted, a few typographical errors corrected, spelling updated, long paragraphs divided and a few minor precisions and corrections made. May this third edition of these essays be a help to all those who seek. May it guide them to the spiritual awareness of the Church and Civilization of Holy Rus and that Orthodoxy is Christianity and that all else, whatever its legacy from ancient Orthodox times, is ultimately but an ism, a distortion and a compromise. ‘For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith’ (1 Jn. 5, 4).

Glory to Thee, O God, Glory to Thee!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

August 2014
St John’s Orthodox Church
Colchester, Essex, England

On the Spiritual Purity of Holy Orthodoxy

Introduction

The living beliefs of St John of Shanghai swim against the tide of the world and are remarkable examples to all of us for the three following reasons. First of all, although he lived outside Russia he expressed faithfulness to Holy Rus, which for him, as shown in his sermon on the 950th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, is a living reality, not a dream or myth, as it is for unbelieving modernists a la Schmemann. This faithfulness to Holy Rus, even though it was enslaved beneath the Soviet atheist yoke, entailed his constant prayers for the Patriarch of the Russian Church (shown by his words to the then Fr Vladimir Rodzianko) despite the Patriarch’s political enslavement and so separation from free Russians. It also entailed St John’s opposition to those who fought against Russia, under the tragic and misguided illusion that that they were fighting against the Soviet Union.

Secondly, St John was faithful to the Tsar, already in the 1930s enjoining his canonization against those of both left and right who opposed it. Thirdly, he believed in the Russian Church not as a national ghetto, but as an organism with the worldwide calling to convert to Orthodoxy, as he clearly expressed at the Second All-Diaspora Council in 1938. These three virtues, faithfulness to Holy Rus, faithfulness to the Orthodox Monarchy and faithfulness to the Russian Church’s calling to preach to the heterodox and unbaptized world, are matched by three opposing temptations. These can be found among the still unChurched (and this includes clergy and laity), among those on the fringes of the Church and those outside the Church. These three temptations of spiritual impurity are liberalism instead of faithfulness, conservatism instead of faithfulness and heterodoxy instead of faithfulness.

Liberalism instead of Faithfulness to Holy Rus

This is the temptation from the left, with its renovationism, modernism, new calendarism, liberalism, ecumenism and freemasonry. We have met its spirit in ‘Orthodox’ freemasons in Paris, in cultish, Hindu-style gurus with a name-worship mantra or psychic hypnosis and even occultism, inspired by Blavatsky and Steiner, in those who cannot stop speaking of ‘hypostasis’ and ‘theosis’, rather than living the commandments of the Gospel, in ‘cowboy’ copies of liberal Protestantism and liberal Catholicism camouflaged by long Greek ‘theological’ words, in the elderly or now dead renovationism of the old KGB-selected Moscow Patriarchal representatives from before the fall of atheism, in well-read converts who reject new immigrants from Eastern Europe because they are not liberal intellectuals like themselves, and in ideologies driven by personalities, not by spiritual realities.

Conservatism instead of Faithfulness to the Orthodox Monarchy

This is the temptation from the right, with its phyletism, nationalism, naïve idealization, old calendarism, right-wing emigres and converts who support and accept money from the CIA or MI5, the cultivation of the museum ethos. We have met its spirit in Greeks who tell Non-Greeks to go away, in those who ban the use of languages other than their own, in nationalist Ukrainians who have nothing to do with the Church because they are driven by politics, not by Christ, in those who fall into schism on account of minor errors rather than the general correctness in the Church, in those who schismatically divide the Church, falling into the temptation of the Church’s enemies who want to divide and so rule Her, in converts from conservative heterodox who bring prejudices into the Church, in those who self-justifyingly confuse psychology with theology, serving self and not the general good of the Church.

Heterodoxy instead of Faithfulness to Missionary Work

Authentic missionary work is about conforming the world to the Church, and not as some compromised people have suggested, supporting the errors of those outside the Church through their own syncretism (‘all religions are the same’), founded on indifference. Also, if heterodox are prematurely received into the Church, they may bring spiritual impurities, either in the form of agendas for ‘reform’ or else of reactions to their heterodox past. Thus, there may be ex-Anglicans still with their Protestant mentality who want a ‘refomed’ Orthodoxy in their own image, since they, received prematurely and not yet ready for the Orthodox Church, are unable to cast off their own personal, cultural and spiritual prejudices. Either such will mature, or else they will lapse. Unable to cast off their Establishment class views, whether of left or right, they will never become Orthodox, however well-read.

Conclusion

The title of this essay is formed by the words of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus (+ 2008), said to me in May 2006, on the need to conserve the integrity of the Holy Orthodox Faith. However, his words were in the same line as those of three generations of Russian bishops of the Diaspora before him, of Archbishop Antony of Geneva (+ 1994), of St John of Shanghai (+ 1966) and of Metropolitan Antony of Kiev (+ 1936), the first First Hierarch of the Church Outside Russia. They all agree, in words as in deeds, that any immixture of spiritual impurity in the Faith is a dead end precisely because it is unspiritual and what is unspiritual by definition brings death. It is for us to follow with care their words, deeds and lives, so that we do nor err from the Tradition of the Church through impure influences from outside Her. And this we can do through faithfulness.