Category Archives: Orthodoxy

Why I Love My Parishioners

My three parishes in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk cover an area of over 5,000 square miles (13,000 square kilometres). That is why we have long needed and, at last have, two assistant priests. How big is my main parish in my native town of Colchester, in the biggest Russian Orthodox church building in the British Isles and Ireland? Well, there are about 100 people I can depend on to be there almost always. Then there are about another 400 parishioners, whom I know I will see within the space of a month. So there are 500 parishioners, of 25 different nationalities, born on four continents.

However, in addition to these 500 there are about another 4,500 people, scattered all over this region and up to 60 miles (100 kilometres) outside it, occasionally attending one or other of the three parishes. I may see them only once or twice a year, and some even less often than that. Many of them only come to church for baptisms and weddings, but when they do come, they come to us. Many of them I hardly know. So, not parishioners as such, but they are still in my mind and heart. There are all sorts of reasons why I see them only rarely, and it is not just a matter of distance. But I will not go into that here.

I want to tell you about two of them. With a title like ‘Why I love my parishioners’, you may think that I want to tell you about two of the 500 regulars. Since I do not want to embarrass anyone, I do not. I want to tell you about two of the other 4,500. They are of two different nationalities.

The first one is a real Orthodox man. In his forties, he is married with two lovely children. He has a business with employees. I first met him when he was in prison. Yes, in prison. Unfortunately, he had criminal competitors who tried to attack him and were jealous of him and his family. They threatened to throw acid in his wife’s face, if he did not take the blame for a crime of fraud which they had committed. He had no doubt that their threat was real. They were capable of it and had already done it to another. So, in order to protect his beloved wife, he went straight to the police and told them a lot of lies about himself. He went on trial and was sentenced. His only ‘crime’ was to lie in court in order to protect his wife. He had to go to prison for one year, but his wife was protected. There was such happiness and rejoicing in his house when he came home.

What a man. No, he has never studied theology, he has never heard of any modern ‘theologians’ (though he does know something of the Lives of the Saints), he cannot tell you about the history and structure of the services, has never met a bishop, does not know the Bible backwards, will not give you lots of pious talk about prayer and fasting, has never heard of ‘the Council of Crete’ and knows nothing about Catholicism and Protestantism. As a real Orthodox, he does not believe in God, he knows Him. So he has humility and there is no self-loving question of proud people about ‘Why has God allowed this to happen to me?’ Just acceptance of God’s will. He has protected and defended what is most precious to him. An example. He sacrificed himself, but has one of the best families in the world. They love each other. That is God’s reward to him. A real Orthodox man.

The second one is a real Orthodox woman, a lady with dignity and self-respect, which has become so rare these days. I first met her when I was making a pastoral visit far away. She married in her early 20s and had two children. But then her husband began drinking. And beating her. She was patient. They only divorced when he began harming the children. (He has since died). So she, then aged 34, brought up two children alone, struggling to pay her bills. She has made a good job of it too. The first went to University and now has a good career. A lovely person. The second, a girl, is finishing school. She has a very noble and idealistic disposition and is not afraid to stand up for the truth. She stands out from the others of her generation. (She has had her mother’s example). A year ago this Orthodox woman, who had shed so many tears for her broken dreams and broken heart these last 25 years, quite downhearted, came to church and there she met a man. The man. Within a week they had fallen in love. It was her dream, the one which she had wanted as a romantic teenager. She had been waiting all those years and then it all came true. Out of the blue.

What a woman. No, she has never studied theology, she has never heard of any modern ‘theologians’ (though she does know something of the Lives of the Saints), she cannot tell you about the history and structure of the services, has never met a bishop, does not know the Bible backwards, will not give you lots of pious talk about prayer and fasting, has never heard of ‘the Council of Crete’ and knows nothing about Catholicism and Protestantism. As a real Orthodox, she does not believe in God, she knows Him. So she has humility and there is no self-loving question of proud people about ‘Why has God allowed this to happen to me?’ Just acceptance of God’s will. She has protected and defended what is most precious to her. An example. She sacrificed himself, but has one of the best families in the world. They love each other. Her new husband adores her – as she deserves. That is God’s reward to her. A real Orthodox woman.

Now you know why I love my parishioners.

After Crete: On the Ecclesiological Heresy of ‘Balkanism’

After the failure of last year’s US-backed meeting of some Orthodox bishops in Crete, representing less than 85% of the Orthodox faithful, the rejection of that meeting by many who were present yet whose signatures were on documents which they had not signed, and the general non-reception of those documents throughout the Church, where does the Church go now? After all, the essential lesson of the failed meeting was that the elderly bishops in their 70s and 80s, who had fixed the agenda, still thinking in terms of the old-fashioned, Vatican II-style 1960s, have still to learn about the reality of Church life. This is that they are to represent the bimillennial Faith, not private political agendas.

Those Orthodox bishops who in their old age are still marked by the decadent 1960s (they often studied in Catholic and Protestant Universities in Western Europe at that time) appear to be confused about the role of the Church. Some of them want Her to become a mere nationalist branch of the Vatican or become some Protestant sect, seeing Her as a depository for Balkan history and folklore and banning missionary work by refusing to accept other nationalities and heterodox into Her, especially in the Western world. We can call this peculiar, provincial view ‘Balkanism’. Clearly, in the global world in which we live, this is so old-fashioned and parochial as to be laughable.

However, more seriously, this is also a heresy. The heresy in question is ecclesiological: it is the refusal, inherent in Balkanism, to recognize the Church as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, but to see Her only as Divided, Secular, Separated from the Universal Church and without Apostolic Tradition. This heresy believes that the Church is divided into nationalistic institutions, each vying with one another to possess the highest Cathedral in the Balkans, controlled by US-appointed Patriarchs and puppet Balkan governments, that She can act in isolation from and without reference to the rest of the Church both in time and in space, and without reference to the Apostolic Tradition.

It seems to us that the time has come for the Patriarch of by far the biggest Local Church, the Russian Orthodox Church with 75% of the faithful and a thousand monasteries, to call a Council of the whole Church to condemn this heresy. Statements on the identity of the Church, One and not Divided, Holy and not Secular, Catholic and not Provincial, Apostolic and not Modernistic, would bring dogmatic and pastoral clarity to the issues raised by the Cretan farce and give elderly and confused bishops the opportunity to retire quietly or else be defrocked in disgrace. Now is the time for lucidity in order to reassure the faithful that they are represented by bishops who are Orthodox in faith.

Those Who Lapse and Those Who Last: The End of ‘Euro-Orthodoxy’ and the Beginning of Orthodoxy in Europe

For some 40 years between the 1960s and the end of the twentieth century, some two thousand Anglicans joined certain parishes of the Orthodox Churches in England – mainly those under the then Parisian ‘Sourozh Diocese’. Together with a small number of ordinary (Non-Anglican) English people, they joined the Church for many reasons. Some of us, perhaps especially the Non-Anglicans, joined because we were sincerely seeking, not being influenced by any personality, but called by Christ to help rebuild His Church in the Western desert. For us, the Orthodox Church was and is the only Church, our spiritual home, to which we had come after realizing that this is God’s Will for us and our souls will die without spiritual food, that is, outside the Church. We have lasted and not lapsed because for us, belonging to the Church has always been a matter of spiritual survival, although and because we have been voices crying in the anti-Orthodox and so secularist wilderness.

However, some did not last but lapsed, for it seems that they were not attached to the Orthodox Church and Faith. Dissatisfied with the ever-changing and ever-new fads of Anglicanism, they attached themselves only to some personality or intellectual philosophy, and not to the Church Herself. Some were perhaps received by marginal figures who, without support from Churched Orthodox, needed to build personality cults for themselves among the naïve, ill-prepared, uninstructed or deluded. In other words, attraction operated for negative reasons, by being against something else, and some never accepted the Church as She is. Deluded by anti-Incarnational fantasies, sometimes of Hindu or Buddhist origin, Russian fakirs and charlatans and secondary and superficial attractions, some remained ‘converts’, not actually becoming Orthodox because of their baggage. They joined the Church, but did not become and live as Orthodox Christians.

The fundamental error of such ‘converts’, as they often liked to call themselves, consisted in not first separating themselves from the 900 + years of the anti-Orthodox and therefore also anti-English, Norman-founded British Establishment. This included its Anglican extension under the syphilitic Tudor tyrant Henry VIII and his followers, not least his murderous ‘theologian’ daughter Elizabeth, the genocidal Cromwell and then various other mercantile Dutch, German and ‘British’ Protestant Imperialists with their ‘Rule Britannia’ jingoism that invaded and enslaved the world. In no way therefore were they able to adopt the Orthodox Faith, for they had not first cleansed their minds and souls from the Anti-Orthodoxy, which they had been conditioned and deluded into thinking of as ‘Western Christianity’. Not having first made room in their minds and souls for the Orthodox Church, the only authentic Western or any other Christianity, they could not last and so lapsed.

Unwilling and so unable to live according to the Orthodox way of life and the Orthodox view of the world and so to think naturally in an Orthodox way, many lapsed completely, some returned to Anglicanism, and others lapsed into a fringe ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’. This inability and unwillingness to integrate meant that these latter tended to form exclusive cliques and convert clubs, which made their church into a ‘Halfodox’ hobby, Anglicanism with icons. Thus, some allowed the baggage which they had brought with them into the Church to define their lives and block possible spiritual growth and understanding. This was because their Western-founded Norman Establishment has always called us, the people, ‘Anglo-Saxons’ or ‘plebs’, although we have always called ourselves simply ‘English’. Their alien Norman Establishment has always patronisingly despised us natives and all who ‘go native’, that is, all who are Orthodox Christians in mind and heart, who are foreign to them.

With this mentality of Establishment condescension and pride towards us English, they also rejected the Orthodox people, with our unintellectual and unphilosophical simplicity and uncomplicated and unmoralizing piety. Thus, some refused in their imagined racial ‘superiority’ and intellectual theorizing to ‘go native’. Between about 2000 and 2010, with Anglicanism altogether disappearing into the New Age blur, few Anglicans asked to be received into the Church, while the by then ageing converts from the last century began to isolate themselves and die out. In recent years, however, a new period has begun. Some ordinary (Non-Anglican) English people from the vast majority have begun to join the Orthodox Church. Like the few Non-Anglicans among those who had preceded them, they have had little difficulty in renouncing the Norman-founded British Establishment and its corrupted culture, because they have in any case never even belonged to it.

Thus, unlike some who had preceded them, they have never been tempted to put British Establishment culture above Christ, so betraying Christ, His Church and also His Orthodox England. For this reason they can begin to develop a real English Orthodox culture. Far more importantly, what has happened in England is only an example of the wider situation all over Western Europe. The betrayal of Western Europe by its Christophobic elite, making it into a wayward, schismatic and isolated province through heresy in 1054 and then apostasy, the betrayal of the real England, Orthodox England, finally destroyed in 1066, the repeated Western betrayals of the Christian Emperors and invasions of the multinational Christian Empire between 1204 and 1917, these are what real Orthodox in Europe reject. What we accept is the end of the old compromised ‘Euro-Orthodoxy’ of the philosophers and the beginning of the real Orthodoxy of the saints of Europe, the Restoration of Europe.

The choice for Christophobic and so Russophobic Europe today is fast becoming Apocalypse or Repentance. Europe, on its suicidal death-bed, caught between self-invented Secularism and self-imposed Islamism, has a last chance. If the peoples of Europe can yet throw off the degeneration of their millennial brainwashing, they can still learn that the truth will set them free from stepping lemming-like off the precipice into the abyss. If they can accept that their elites have deluded them into thinking that they are ‘free’, by being enslaved to the elites’ millennial secularist ideology, regardless of whether it is called Roman Catholic, Scholastic, Protestant, Anglican, Conservative, Socialist, Communist, Democratic, Liberal, Agnostic, Atheist, Post-Modernist, then suicide can be averted. If they can accept that their roots are only in the Tradition, Orthodox Christianity, the Church of God, and not in any latecomer manmade religion, then Repentance even at this late hour is still possible.

On the Resurrection of Europe: The Message of the Christian Empire to Europe

There was once a Christian Empire. At the far Western tip of the Eurasian Continent, Europe was an integral part of that Empire, giving birth to the light of ten thousand saints to combat and defeat native European darkness. This was Holy Europe. But Europe fell away from those saints, that ideal of holiness and its Empire, replacing holiness with the darkness of idolatry, out of envy not tolerating that it was not at the centre of the Empire. In revolt and falling back into its old darkness, Europe successively laid waste to both centres of the Christian Empire, New Rome in 1204 and the Third Rome in 1917, slaughtering even the Russian Ruling Family, who were Europeans. To allow them to be killed, on orders from New York, was suicide for Europe, but as for the Christian Empire, it miraculously survived.

Now, one hundred years on, in 2017, Europe is at a turning-point. Will the yearnings of Old Europe be heard or will the New Europe, atheized and so homogenized, altogether wipe out the Old Europe of the saints and their heritage of holiness? The message of what survives of the Christian Empire, of Russian Orthodoxy, to Europe is that its Resurrection, the salvation of the best of Old Europe, that which is compatible with the Church, is still possible. Once Europe was Holy Europe, just as the Russian Lands were Holy Rus. The Saints of the Russian Lands speak to Europe and the Saints of Europe speak back to the Russian Lands. The Russian Orthodox message to Europe is to give it back the Orthodox Trinitarian commandments in order to save it. These Trinitarian commandments are:

Faith: To keep faith with the integrity of Orthodox Christianity, avoiding manmade substitutes, mere religions, recent constructs of the fallen mind.

Sovereignty: To be loyal to the Incarnation of the Faith in the Christian Empire, rejecting manmade substitutes, false and idolatrous empires based on envy.

The People: To respect the gifts and restore the destinies of each individual European people, inasmuch as they are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

From north to south, passing from Oslo to Madrid, from west to east, passing from Dublin to Vienna, passing over the centre of the Cross in Paris, we make the sign of the Cross over Europe and entrust it to the Church of God. It is our belief that we are approaching the end of the world and that that end will come, if another Christian Emperor is not soon restored. And for the Tsar to be restored, we require the Cross of Repentance in the west, Return in the east, Redemption in the north, Rebirth in the south, and so Resurrection in the centre. And if the Tsar is not restored, then the Tsar of Tsars will come.

METROPOLITAN ISAIAH: WE WILL NOT FOLLOW THE ANTI-CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTIONS FROM EUROPE

Limassol, 1 June 2017

The website Agionoros.ru. reports that in Cyprus on 28 May, in front of a large audience, an evening meeting was organized by the local Metropolia to coincide with the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople, ‘the Acropolis of Orthodoxy’, on 28 May 1453.

The local Metropolitan Isaiah said that the new Franks (modern Western Europeans) were trying with new laws and the spread of heretical teachings to uproot ‘all that is holy from the souls of contemporary Greeks and to deprive Greece of Christ’. He added: ‘However much the occupiers try, we will not surrender and accept the plans and memoranda of the international creditors and the anti-Christian, immoral and neo-liberal instructions from Europe’.

The Orthodox: The Ultimate Recusants

In British history recusants were Roman Catholics who in Elizabethan England and afterwards remained loyal to ‘the Old Faith’, refusing to attend the ‘modernist’ Anglican Church (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recusancy). For them the head of the Church could never be the King or Queen of England, but only the Pope of Rome, whatever illusory external trappings of Catholicism the Church of England may have retained.

From an Orthodox viewpoint we may have some sympathy for recusants in their battle against anti-sacral, boring, reductionist Protestantism, but the fact is that they remained loyal not to Orthodoxy, but to an already corrupted form of Orthodoxy, to medieval Catholicism. Although faithfulness is a virtue, we always have to ask ‘faithfulness to what? This is also true of ‘contemporary Catholic recusants’.

By these I mean those traditionalist Catholics who reject the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s and its protestantizing tenets. We may have some sympathy for them, but to what do they remain faithful? To the anti-Orthodox tenets of pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism? And all too often, let it be said, to a very right-wing form of politics that can have sinister echoes in 20th century Western European history.

The fact is that Orthodox in the West are the ultimate recusants. We are faithful to the genuine ‘Old Faith’, that which predates eleventh-century invented Roman Catholicism, we are faithful to the Church of God. We are faithful to God and not to man and his essentially filioquist and so secularist desire to replace the Divine, paradisiac and sinless Holy Spirit with the human, fallen and sinful unholy spirit.

The Battle for the Soul of the Anglosphere

The term Anglosphere has come to be used to mean the English world, what old people used to call the White Commonwealth and the USA. Roughly it means the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Arguably, it could also include parts of South Africa and countries such as Ireland. The Anglospere in terms of power and finance is by far the most important part of the world, the part that others either copy or else fear, either admire or detest. Clearly, by far the most important part of this Anglosphere is the USA. Great Britain ceased being ‘Great’ a long time ago, but in fact the USA is today’s ‘Great’ Britain, as it continues the same policies as Great Britain did in its time of worldly glory, 100-200 years ago, only with all the power of modern technology.

Churchill accurately predicted that Britain would always prefer the USA (‘the ocean’) to mainland Europe. I remember a conversation in a famous French School of Management 25 years ago, when a Frenchman asked me why the UK was so ‘anti-European’ (= by which he meant anti-European Union – what he mistakenly believed to be a French project), as the UK is geographically not in Africa or Asia, but clearly in Europe. I answered simply that geography had nothing to do with it; blood is thicker than water, British people sent their Christmas cards to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, not to mainland Europe. At that point a German businessman in the class spoke the truth to the discomfort of the Frenchman (and also of many Englishmen), saying that for Germans of his generation Britain is simply ‘the front end of the USA’.

All this is politics, history and geography. But I mention it because it was not always so. Once the English, although politically weak and small in number, had saints and their main export was holiness. All this was over 1,000 years ago. Here then is the battle for the soul of the Anglosphere. To begin to return to that holiness or to continue as now, not just in England, but also to lead the Anglosphere gradually towards that, that is the question. A return is impossible? Probably that is so. After all, why have so few English-speaking (and also in general Western) people joined the Orthodox Church and then actually become Orthodox? Because they reject the depth of repentance vital after 1,000 years of layer after layer of heresy. Self-justification is much easier. But it is not enough to take a Greek name: being a Hellenophile is not Orthodoxy. What is necessary is the cleansing of souls that have been polluted and corrupted by an anti-Orthodox mentality and world-view and then to return to the saints.

The chances of our victory in the battle for the soul of the Anglosphere are minute. But that does not mean that some individual reparation is not possible and if many individuals were to choose this path, then surely there is still hope. Once, the Reformation, separation from Rome, led to excommunication. This led to the Tudor trading conquest of the world through pillage and tyranny. Brexit, separation from the Treaty of Rome, is leading to economic excommunication. This could lead to some new spiritual insight, some return to the holiness of the ancient past. Our God is the God of wonders.

Which Jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church Should I Join?

Although fourteen Local Orthodox Churches make up the whole Orthodox Church of 216 million, only seven of them are represented by their jurisdictions outside the Local Orthodox Church homelands in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. However, since the Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia generally care only for their own nationals, only three of these jurisdictions are open to Non-Orthodox. These three depend on the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch and Moscow.

However, in Western Europe and North America there at present exist two groups in the Russian Church – that directly under Moscow and that under the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and so indirectly under Moscow. In North America, there is actually a third group, known as the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), originally largely Carpatho-Russian but now basically English-language, which was founded by Moscow. Anyone wishing to join the Orthodox Church may therefore have a choice to make.

Generally speaking, in Western countries, where Orthodox Christians are only a small minority and Orthodox churches are few and far between, this choice will be decided geographically. If you only have one Orthodox church geographically near you, then that is the church to join. However, if you live in or near the capital of a Western country or in or near a large city or town, there may well be a choice to make between the various jurisdictions. What needs to be known in order to choose?

1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople

This jurisdiction is dominated by Greek nationalism (the Greek flag) and generally sends away any Non-Greeks who knock at its door. It should also be known that this Patriarchate is both heavily involved with the Vatican and is run by the US political elite. For it, Washington is the ‘Second Rome’ and therefore the official ethos is modernistic, ecumenistic and generally liberal Protestant, according to the anti-Russian, Anglo-Saxon Establishment model. This is true even of Non-Greek parts of it, even though they try and imitate a few selected Russian customs. Having said this, there are exceptions, with some excellent pastors and pious people, so that any generalizations can be disproved by exceptions to the rule. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that is not nationalistic and so is interested in missions to the Non-Greek world and has spiritual depth and content.

2. The Patriarchate of Antioch

Part of this jurisdiction is dominated by Arab nationalism, but the other part, mainly in Western countries, is dominated by a spirit of mission with a conservative-evangelical Protestant style, with a certain, rather peculiar and amateurish imitation of a few selected Russian customs. The ethos of this part, largely run by ex-Evangelicals, is to proselytize, that is, its ethos is to recruit as many like-minded converts as possible to itself. Some criticize it for this because as a result it cuts corners, fails to observe the canons and has a Protestant feel to it that attracts few cradle Orthodox (and it is not even very interested in this), certainly none who are anchored in the Tradition. Having said this, no-one would criticize this part of Antioch for its lack of zeal, only for its lack of depth and of knowledge of the Tradition. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

3. The Patriarchate of Moscow

A criticism of this jurisdiction is that its Patriarch and hierarchy are corrupt. Those who make such assertions never have any proof of them and are engaged in Western-sponsored, anti-Russian politics. However, even if, for the sake of argument, we agree that they were true, we would answer: So what? The Patriarch is not the Head of the Church, for Christ is the Head of the Church and the Patriarch does not run the Church, for the Holy Spirit runs the Church. Such political criticisms show a Papist way of thinking. The parishes of the Patriarchate of Moscow outside the former Soviet Union, mainly in Western Europe and South America, display several tendencies. Some are nationalistic and, Soviet-style, arrogantly imperialistic, some are modernistic, others follow the Tradition and accept Non-Russians. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

4. ROCOR

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) exists mainly in North America, Australasia and Western Europe. As such it has been responsible for much missionary and translation work. It has in its near-100 year history also been subject to many sufferings and persecution, as it has been without the political protection of a powerful State. Thus, the best of ROCOR has been a Church of Confessors and Missionaries, as in its saints like St John of Shanghai. However, other parts of it have been involved in nationalism, excessive strictness to the point of phariseeism and depressing right-wing politics. Today, as part of the Russian Orthodox Church, it has sometimes given the impression of drifting and having lost its identity. This drift has come about whenever its faithfulness to the Tradition has been in doubt. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

The Paris School and the Future

The phrase ‘Paris School’ (of Russian religious philosophy) is a vague phrase because many of its representatives ended up not living in Paris or even France and because it was such a very varied phenomenon. Thus, it included intellectuals mainly of Russian origin (but not all of them), who ended up living as far apart as the USA, England, Finland, Bulgaria (the anti-monarchist plotter, Fr George Shavelsky) and Constantinople (the philosopher Metr John Zisioulas). Some of these were close to Orthodoxy, others were in open heretical revolt against the Church and constructed anti-Church ideologies, others were simply harmless eccentrics who lived in the clouds.

A representative close to the Tradition, for example, was the academic theologian (and not philosopher!) Fr George Florovsky, who was ousted from St Vladimir’s Seminary by another much more Protestant-minded thinker of a Paris-born generation, Fr Alexander Schmemann. However, there were others like the notorious Fr Sergey Bulgakov, who founded a new heresy under the influence of the alcoholic Catholic occultist Vladimir Soloviov. The latter was the real founder of the School, who infected it with all its basic currents of Gnosticism, Origenism, liberalism and ecumenism and had a great influence on the enormous intellect of the polymath, Fr Paul Florensky.

Then in Paris there was also the esoteric philosopher Berdyayev, who was imbued with semi-Catholic mysticism and like Bulgakov never quite shook off his Marxism, but there was also the more Orthodox Fr Basil Zenkovsky who wrote a magisterial ‘History of Russian Philosophy’. Then there were Vladimir Lossky, trained in Scholasticism, but whose views were very close to the Tradition in many respects, but on the other hand, the fantasist Bishop John Kovalevsky or the recently deceased French ecumenists, the ex-pastor Elisabeth Behr-Sigel and Olivier Clement. Their views were respectively as close to Protestantism and Catholicism as is possible without lapsing.

In England there were other representatives of the Paris School. These included the late Metr Antony (Bloom), whose curious, personal views combined a theoretical conservatism with an extraordinary liberalism and influenced several convert followers, like the Jewish Fr Sergei Hackel. Then there was the late ex-Uniat Fr Lev Gillet, who appears to have died either as a Quaker or else a Buddhist (no-one is quite sure), or the Parisian artist and intellectual the late Fr Sophrony Sakharov, whose whole esoteric philosophy of Orthodoxy came to be shaped by the peasant St Silvanus whom he had met on the Holy Mountain, where he had been a librarian.

With such a variety of individuals, some much closer to Orthodox Tradition than others, some more renovationist than others, some more fantasist than others, what do they all have in common? Negatively speaking, it is how far most of them seemed to have stood from the saints of the Church in the emigration like St John of Shanghai (also who also lived for many years in Paris and often came to London) or St Seraphim of Sofia, or from the genuine Orthodox philosopher of the emigration Ivan Ilyin. These followed the wholeness of the ascetic Tradition of the Church, and not selected fragments of it, which is why the Paris School was opposed to authentic monasticism.

However, this was not the essence of the Paris School. Its essence was its intellectual pretentiousness, which contains the pride which is at the heart of all deviations from the Church, without exception. Not understanding that enlightenment comes from the grace of God that alone cleanses the repentant heart, they all mistakenly believed that enlightenment comes from the purification of the intellect and the imagination. This tragic mis-take meant that their views were intellectual, philosophical, more or less renovationist, more or less fantasist, disincarnate from reality and from ordinary Orthodox and Orthodoxy, and so ultimately they became sectarian and cultish.

The proof of this thesis is in the fact that when the time came for the gradual liberation of the Russian Church inside Russia from Sergianism and Renovationism after 1991, they refused to re-enter Her fold and glorify the New Martyrs and Confessors together with Her. They had not been longing to return all along, as had the faithful, but had instead been cultivating their own intellectualist philosophies outside the Orthodox Tradition. Thus, cultivating private, personality-driven sidelines, they failed to see the mainstream of Church catholicity and ended up isolating themselves in the worst sort of isolation – isolation from the real saints, the New Martyrs and Confessors.

This meant that they allied themselves only with the vestigial renovationist and sectarian elements on the fringes of the Russian Church inside Russia. It also meant that they sullied themselves with politics (under the pretence of being apolitical!, which is always political). Thus, they allied themselves with Russophobic elements in the Western world, for example, with the self-justifying neocon hawks and past-worshipping warmongers of NATO, who never wanted the Cold War to end and in their ethnocentricity arrogantly never understand that the vibrant values of Orthodox Christian Civilization are quite different from their dying anti-Christian Western culture.

This is why, when at the end of 2016 the time of generational change had come for renewal in Russia and then, inspired by the Russian example, for the first glimmers of freedom and the hope of repentance in the West, the Paris School and its values stuck to the dead past. These last representatives were now aged, vestigial relics, whose rebellious and often absurd ideologies had been half-baked in the spiritual desert of the 1960s, which had been passed on to a few convert intellectuals in Russia who still had not caught up with the real world. As for the Church, we look as ever towards prophetic holiness and the dynamic restoration of the Tradition in the Holy Spirit that is happening now.

Two Extremes: Calvinism and Modernism

By Calvinism, which has its roots in Augustinianism (which is rather different from the teaching of Blessed Augustine of Hippo), we mean the human tendency to despair. This is the tendency to see all as black, that salvation is impossible, whatever efforts we make – despite the Gospel saying that with God all things are possible – that depression is our life. It is the source of dour Scots, serious Swiss and earnest Dutch. This is the error that says that God has no mercy, only truth.

By Modernism, which has its roots in Pelagianism and Origenism, we mean the human tendency to self-exaltation. This is the tendency to see humanity as already saved, that no confession and repentance are necessary for forgiveness, that the effect of holy communion is magic, automatic, requiring no effort on our part. This is the source of modern humanism and secularism and, in the Church context, renovationism. This is the error that says that God has no truth, only mercy.

As ever, Orthodoxy, the faith in the God-man, transcendent and immanent, neither Monophysite or Nestorian, neither Origenist or Calvinist, has balance, truth and mercy, repentance and forgiveness, the Tradition of the Holy Spirit.