Category Archives: Rationalism

My Life, the Last Battle and the New Orthodox World (N.O.W.)

‘Tell the people: Although I have died, I am alive.’

St John of Shanghai

Foreword: The War

Forty-five years ago I was told by one who could have known better that, as I had been waiting for years to join the Orthodox Church, I now faced a choice: I could either join the Greek Church of Constantinople or the Church of Russia; it was all the same. But only to him was it all the same, as, in spite of, or rather because of, his great intellect, he was spiritually confused. He lived in an alien compromise, washing his hands before the critical choice. I joined the Russian Church because, since the age of twelve, I had known through revelations to my soul that my destiny was most definitely in the Russian Orthodox Church. However crippled it may have been after 1917, I was destined to share in that agony, indeed, although it seemed foolishness to the Jews and to the Greeks alike, only by sharing in that agony could I hope to find my own salvation. I sensed even then that what he had told me was somehow untrue. At best it could only have been a delusion. It was not all the same – and recent very sad events have shown this to all absolutely clearly. Let me explain:

The Church is not to be found in a people who believe that it is a chosen people. Many Hebrews believed that they were the chosen people, but they stoned the prophets and crucified the Son of God. To this day many of their descendants reject Christ, some considering themselves superior to the rest of humanity. Then the Western European elite came to believe in their ‘exceptionalism’ (that is, their claim that they too were above God) too, all in order to justify their organized barbaric aggression. So a thousand years after Christ, they too fell away from the Church, rejecting the Holy Spirit and seizing control of the Church in the West in order to justify their conquistador power-grab. So, like pirates, they began persecuting us ordinary Christians and conquering the rest of the world by fire and the sword. Then their secularist descendants, in turn the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, German and finally American elites, did exactly the same, demanding world hegemony (‘globalism’), also rejecting Christ because they consider themselves superior to the rest of humanity. (Hence their anti-Semitism: the other ‘chosen people’, the Jews, were rivals to them, therefore they had to be eliminated). In the Church there has now come the turn of certain Greeks, telling us that only they are Christians, that God speaks only Greek, and, as one very well-known Cypriot archimandrite told me, even that their pagan ancestors had prepared the way for Christ! Many Russians fell victim to the same delusion, in the same way believing in themselves instead of believing in God, taking communion only once a year. So they lost everything and overthrew the God-appointed Christian Emperor in 1917. Only through the blood of the New Martyrs and the tears and sweat of the New Confessors did repentance eventually begin to come to them.

All these ‘chosen peoples’ failed to understand that salvation comes only from the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ through the Mercy of God and the Holy Spirit – not from some earthly ‘Jewish Rome’ of some mythical ‘chosen people’. For this reason, once I had chosen the Russian Church, I was to spend the rest of my life at war, in tireless battles, in unceasing strife, in the trenches, on the Western Front, fighting for real Christianity, for the real Russian Orthodox Church, together, of course, with many others. We all fought against the narrow-minded, nationalist delusions and impurities of those who had lost the big picture, who could not see the wood for the trees. They told us that only Russians could be Orthodox, that only their own exclusive little fragments of the great Imperial Orthodoxy, which had not undergone the blood, tears and sweat of others, could be right, that God’s Church needed ‘saving’ or ‘reforming’ (naturally, by themselves!). Some of them even persecuted and took to court as a common criminal the greatest saint among them all, St John of Shanghai. Little wonder that the Lord sent me to a military Church. I never sought any of this; it was all imposed on me. My soul would have died had I not taken part in this spiritual warfare. My life has been unceasing warfare in four battles, all fought beneath the Protecting Veil, which my patron-saint saw and which is the only reason why I am still alive.

Three Battles

My first battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora in England, which was dependent on Moscow, from spiritual impurity. After nine years, by 1983, I realized that I would fail in this. It was a task quite beyond me, with my very feeble abilities and from my modest, provincial, rural background; the enemies were invested with the strength of a personality cult, with all the authority of men and their city establishments, they had no time for a ploughman’s grandson. I was knocking my head against brick walls. So I left into exile, seeing my limitations. I understood that it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before this battle could be won (I did not know then that this would mean twenty-four years). Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could in time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.

My second battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on Constantinople (Rue Daru), from spiritual impurity. I fought in Paris and thought that this battle was winnable. It was – almost. However, after six years in 1988 there came a turning-point when I saw that I would fail in this battle too. The intrigues of freemasons in high places meant that I could not help win this battle – all my friends were in low places. I knew then that this Paris group would eventually (I did not know then that this would mean thirty years) disappear into spiritual irrelevance. Those who had betrayed the Tsar and made him and his Family into martyrs had also betrayed the Church. So I left, having understood that here too it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before the battle to bring even a part of this group home to the Russian Church could be won. Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could with time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.

My third battle from the first day of 1989 onwards was to take part in the struggle to help free that part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on New York (ROCOR), from spiritual impurity. Here there was a much greater chance of success, for the contaminating Protestant disease of ‘super-correctness’ (as another disciple of St John of Shanghai called it), with its ignorance, phariseeism, extremism, sectarianism, old calendarism, psychological (not theological) deviations of convertitis and Cold War money, had many opponents in the USA itself and even more in Western Europe where I was fighting on the Front. And above all, my Diocesan Archbishop supported me and I supported him. The ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a spiritual son of and the European successor to St John of Shanghai, was in effect the first real Orthodox bishop I had met. We had an identical understanding of the Church. By myself I could do nothing, but now I was far from being alone; I was simply one of very many, a little cog in a large machine. I did not know then that this struggle would take eighteen years, for only in 2007 did the Church win the day. I was taking part in our first victory, together with millions of others, in the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors, to which I had always belonged in spirit. Only geography had ever divided us.

After the Three Battles

Once this battle, in which I had played only a tiny role, eventually from my provincial home-town, had been won by the many, especially by the bishops who had been inspired by the grace of God, I knew that the two other houses of cards where I had earlier lost the day would fall in their turn. I just did not know that it would take another twelve years. Between 2007 and today, in 2019, I have seen both these first lost battles won. History won them. What I knew in the past, that they would be won only in God’s own time, has come to pass. What we have fought long and hard for has been obtained. Thus, we now at last have for our Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland a bishop, pleaded for during over four decades. He is Orthodox, understanding the local language and people, not phyletist, venerating the local saints and not denying them, missionary-minded like us, encouraging us and not destroying us, not under the control of laypeople, in good health, and who will be resident here in just a few weeks from now.

Secondly, the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe, awaited for over three decades, was at last established in Paris only a few weeks ago. This means that our House will be built on rock, not on sand, and that the ‘Euro-Orthodox’ fantasy of the Paris Brotherhood is now dead. The future Local Church of Western Europe will be authentically Orthodox. For what we have sought for and fought for since 1988 now is. There is now a real Orthodox Exarchate for Western Europe, with many regional dioceses and young bishops, hundreds of parishes and several monasteries, venerating the local saints and not denying them, the foundation of the new Local Church. Led by Metropolitan John in Paris, who bears the name of our missionary father in Christ, St John of (Shanghai and) Western Europe and so continues in the tradition of Archbishop Antony of Geneva, it will of course need much more time to develop. It consists of the generally newer Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, in many dioceses and with many bishops. However, alongside it and complementing it, also stand the two (Western European and German) dioceses of ROCOR, with their five bishops, two of them younger and active. This consists of the generally older, more integrated, Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, a few of them until recently under Constantinople, but now at last come home. The two parts need each other and hopefully their bishops will meet regularly in order to help each other in their own joint Synod.

However, in this Year of the Lord, 2019, there is the last mystical battle (last for me) in the series of mystical battles in this Hundred Years’ War, which for a century has so deformed Church structures in the Diaspora. This battle is also against spiritual impurity, against masonic ecumenist and modernist intrigues. However, this last battle is the battle inside the Russian Lands, inside historic Rus’; it is therefore not a local battle for English, French and American Rus’ in London, Paris and New York, for part of the small Russian Diaspora, it is a general battle which concerns the whole Church. This is taking place today in the Ukraine, but it affects all. For the Church is the mystical centre of the world and it is the Ukraine which is now the mystical centre of the Church. And this is why we have come here now, sent to fight from the Western Front to the Eastern Front. All will stand or fall by their attitude to what is happening in the Ukraine today, to this battle between Christ and Satan. Whose side are you on?

The Fourth Battle

The internal administrative centre of the false Orthodoxy against which I fought in all our four battles, was formed in Istanbul a century ago. It came into being only because of the long-planned overthrow of the restraining protection of Imperial Tsardom. However, the Western disease which had overthrown the Christian Emperor and so the Christian Empire and then brought that centre into being had already infected Russia and elsewhere before that. For the disease contaminated all nationalities, including many in the Russian Lands and from there in the Diaspora. The disease came to be called renovationism and the renovationists were keenly supported from Istanbul. Today it has become crystal clear that the whole of the supposed Orthodox world has now to side either with real Orthodoxy or else against real Orthodoxy. The time of reckoning has come; the time of compromise is over. No-one can stand by any longer with the indifference and conceit of Pilate. Even though this battle is of exactly the same nature as the series of three battles which we fought in the Diaspora before this one, now it is not the Diaspora, but the Ukraine which is the sword that divides. The battlefield has changed to the Ukraine, but the battle is the same one; it is the battle for spiritual purity, for canonicity, for real Orthodoxy.

Gradually, over the last two months, one Local Church after another has decided to side with spiritual purity, canonicity and real Orthodoxy and so support Metr Onufry and the Church of God of the Ukraine. The rest of the Russian Church with ROCOR was the first to support him wholeheartedly. The Local Churches of Serbia, Bulgaria, Antioch, Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Cyprus, and unofficial but spiritually free (= non-political) voices in the Churches of Greece, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Georgia, followed. So far, thirteen out of eighteen Athonite monasteries have joined us. And a few days ago the episcopate of the basically Carpatho-Russian OCA (Orthodox Church in America), which had dithered for several weeks and where some had for years even been threatening to desert the Church for Istanbul, decided the same. This is their spiritual victory and our very great comfort after decades of spiritual slumber, of wandering far from the Church with American phyletist delusions. It means that the little OCA is maturing, at last deciding to accept its destiny, abandoning its eccentric spiritual isolation and so finding its positive identity by returning to its roots under St Tikhon. Inspired by the breath of new life, it can at last begin to play a significant and fulfilling role as one of the component parts of the future, united, much larger, multinational Russian Orthodox Churches of the three continents of the New World, of the Americas and Oceania.

This leaves the episcopates of only two Local Churches, the large Romanian and the tiny Albanian, not politically free and sitting on the fence, paralysed like Pontius Pilate ‘for fear of the Jews’. They are silent, neither supporting nor rejecting, awaiting instructions from above on whether to support the petty nationalism of the phyletist schism of Constantinople or not. The false church in the Ukraine, founded by the US-backed separatists in Kiev, is officially under a certain Sergei Dumenko. He is actually a Vatican- and US-approved puppet-layman, therefore both pro-Uniat and pro-LGBT, and not a metropolitan, His false church has been seen to be without grace, without sacraments, without the Holy Spirit. His church is that of ‘the Ukrainian god’, as one Ukrainian minister has put it. His enthronement in Kiev six days ago was ignored by all the Local Churches. His so-called ‘Church’ is only a regime-manipulated charade of empty rituals, just another small ultra-nationalist organization – an absurd anachronism in this global world. It is supported by teams of police-backed Nazi bandits who intimidate and beat up Christians, because Nazis have no concept of the meaning of the word ‘Christian’. And these anti-Christian men of violence are directly supported by an alien and corrupt political regime in Kiev, supported by alien and corrupt regimes elsewhere, and, to their eternal shame, by Greek ‘bishops’ in Istanbul.

Afterword: The Victory

The decadent, self-appointed, Paris-School ‘theologians’ from the past slip away one by one. With them their secularizing ideologies from the past, Ecumenism (anti-Orthodoxy; against the Father), Modernism (anti-Sovereignty; against the Son) and Liberalism (anti-People; against the Holy Spirit), slip away into spiritual irrelevance. Their books of intellectual fantasy-philosophy are ready for the dust of forgotten library shelves. Those who frustrated, wasted, impeded and persecuted us for so many decades are leaving the stage and we are beginning to see the future clearly now. For the New Orthodox World (N.O.W.) is taking shape. The New Orthodox World (NOW) is led not by anachronisms, relics from the past in cities of empires which have not existed for centuries, but by vibrant and missionary multinational Local Churches, Autonomous Churches and Exarchates worldwide. These are not narrow and corrupted nationalist museums for State rituals, flag-waving and cultural nostalgia or the playthings of disincarnate but very aggressive, politicized and politically correct, liberal intellectuals, but living organisms, cleansed to prepare us all to meet the King before He returns in all His glory. And in the New Orthodox World, NOW, there is the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ, awaiting Him and resisting the Enemy of Mankind, who comes before Christ in order to create disunity, disorder and distress among us.

The death-threat which I received three years ago, sent me because the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, did not stop me or deter me for a single second. In a dream, come to me after receiving that death-threat, I opened my front door and saw an agent on my doorstep. He at once fired his revolver at me, but the bullet rebounded off my priest’s cross, killing him instead of me. He fell to the ground and his corpse was dragged away to a waiting car by his colleague, who in fear and astonishment uttered powerless curses. I left and hid in a secret and remote place where I could not be found. I was rescued by the prayers of one who long, long ago had also taken refuge in such a place and I was taken to a faraway land. I have never paid any attention to dreams, especially such dramatic ones, but I remembered this one. However, I only really understood its meaning and symbolism on my first day here. It means that, like all of us, I will die when God decides, not when men decide, for though man proposes, God disposes. It means that the bullet rebounds, for if men want to kill the truth, they kill only themselves (exactly as they have done for the last one hundred and five years, with their atheist wars, one after another). And those who try to kill the Church in the Ukraine are committing spiritual suicide; indeed, their death-bearing bullet has already lethally rebounded onto themselves.

Victory has been ours in the Diaspora, because we have been willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies have not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. Victory is ours in the Ukraine, because we are willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies are not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. This is why we shall win this last battle now – because we do not fear death, for we believe and we know that Christ is the Life-Giving God, Who rose from the dead and freed the captives in hell. They, however, have only heard of the Risen Christ as a theory and symbolic myth for their heads. They believe it not in their hearts. Therefore their heads, like their lives, are full of the philosophies and works of death. But we do believe and we know and we tremble in awe before the Living God, Who is the Great God, Who works wonders and Who is with us, so that none is against us. Let the dead bury the dead. As for us, we shall not die, but live, and we shall declare the works of the Lord. The Lord is our Enlightenment and our Saviour, whom then shall we fear?

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Kiev, 1-8 February 2019

 

 

 

 

The Theological Reason Why Gun Massacres Take Place

Yet another gun massacre has taken place in the USA, this time in a church and involving children. We live at a time of spiritual awakening, but this awakening is that of Satan’s demons, who have since 1914 been coming up from the world below at increasing speed at modern man’s invitation to fill the vacuum left by his ever-accelerating abandonment of faith. For the demons, all that belongs to Christ must be wrecked and destroyed, since the presence of Christ incites them to destructive rage. This is what happens at every gun massacre. In order to counter Satan and his minions, we must have mystical sense. What does this mean?

By mystical sense, or mysticism, we do not mean some occultist or esoterist fantasies, which are always the fruit of self-indulgent ego-trips, the result of fallen imaginations. We mean the concrete knowledge of God from spiritual life. Therefore, this mystical sense has nothing to do with moralism/ puritanism, which is caused precisely by the absence of spiritual life. Indeed, in modern times moralism/puritanism has degenerated even from the quest for fake inward purity into the quest for outward purity, as in the ‘green’ movement with its fanaticism for political correctness and its witch hunts for anyone who is not ‘green’.

The same puritanical fanaticism lies behind the current campaign of accusations of sexual harassment, being made mainly in the ex-Protestant USA and UK. Anyone can make such allegations, most of which can never be proven. Of course, this does not mean that many Hollywood producers and UK politicians are not guilty of such harassment. It has always been known that actors and actresses in the theatre and so the cinema and Hollywood, work largely through prostitution. The same is true of politicians. Those who seek power – and gain it – like to exploit sexually. The mystical sense that we need to resist Satan cannot come from either such amoralism or from moralism.

It can only come from our experience of the Living God, Who alone reveals to us the awareness of our personal destiny, God’s Will for each one of us. Mystical sense means not faith in our sinful selves, but faith in Divine Providence, the experience that the Incarnate God is both transcendent and immanent. He is not of this world, but in this world. For those who are not of this world, and are not in it, are the disincarnate philosophers of the Paris School, as they are mere dreamers, not theologians. Those who are of the world, and are in it, are the moralists who consider Church buildings more important than people, as they are mere administrators, not spiritual leaders.

Now philosophers are born from the Roman Catholic heresy, whereas moralists are born from the Protestant heresy. Does this mean that we in the Church with our theology, the experience of the Living God through the Holy Spirit, are immune? Of course not. For example, there are the liberal intellectuals/philosophers/academics, who are invariably philo-Catholic. We have only to think of the Paris Russian philosophers and their ecumenist disciples in the USA, the Phanar and Moscow. On the other hand, there are the conservative moralists, who are invariably philo-Protestant. We have only to think of puritanical, nationalist, boring Greek moralist movements like Zoi and Sotir.

The Church lives a life that is independent of secular influences like Catholicism and Protestantism. We confess Orthodox Christianity, as formulated in the Patristic Nicene Creed, which was expressly rejected by Catholicism/ Protestantism, which are only the maximalist and minimalist sides of exactly the same error of rationalism. Of course, those on the spiritual fringes of the Church (whatever rank they may hold, they are still spiritually on the fringes) err. Let them do so. We in the Church will go on, drawing our life from the Holy Spirit, Who gives us the experience and knowledge of the Living God, brought to us through His Providence and so our mystical sense and theology.

 

 

On the Draft Catechism Produced in Moscow

Russian Version: https://stbasil.center/2017/11/01/o-proekte-katehizisa/

A draft catechism has been compiled in Moscow and is now being discussed. We have seen it. It is very long and has clearly been composed by intellectuals (judging by their condescension to ‘ordinary Orthodox’ and lack of observation of how we ordinary Orthodox live our faith). And it is also clear that they have copied from the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic catechism, or versions of it, like the pseudo-Orthodox Parisian ‘Dieu est Vivant’ catechism, which dates back some 35 years to modernist Catholicism. This draft is based on an over-complicated, self-justifying intellectual approach, full of quotations from the Scriptures and the early Fathers, some of them taken out of context, some of them taken from a heretical document falsely attributed to St Isaac the Syrian. Rather than a question and answer approach, it has adopted a patronizing approach, ensuring that very few real Orthodox will ever read it, which is for the best.

This draft catechism is clearly marked by modernism, suggesting like the Parisians’ hero-heretic, Origen, that salvation is for all and that Darwin is also Orthodox. Its bureaucratic language and Western jargon about ‘human dignity and rights’ and ‘a social concept’ expresses not Orthodox theology, but the politically correct ‘scientific’ theology of Western doctoral students. Unlike ROCOR’s Fr Seraphim Slobodskoy’s simple and classic catechism ‘The Law of God’, which is also very popular inside Russia, this draft is not accessible to ordinary Orthodox. Clearly, the whole thing has been written by those closer to the humanism of Pope Francis than the Orthodox Faith and people. Someone in Moscow, who has studied in a Western University, wants a Vatican II-style Council in the Orthodox Church. For example, this draft never mentions our Russian Orthodox dress code and seems to think that fasting is not very important.

Marked by the language of secularist rationalists from outside the Church, the document presents the Church of God as a religious institution, not the Risen Body of Christ, radiated and penetrated by the Holy Spirit. The authors want to make this institution acceptable to the secular world by avoiding the dogmatic revelations of the Holy Spirit and all areas of controversy. Orthodoxy is just a ‘confession’ and heretical groups outside the Orthodox Church are also called ‘Churches’. It seems to prefer political correctness to the Truth that sets free. Thus, there is little about the Fall and its consequence of ancestral sin. A sign of Roman Catholicism comes in its attribution of papal-like powers to the Patriarch of the Russian Church and equally to its superficial description of the filioque heresy. A sign of Protestant-style Judaism comes in its over-emphasis on the Old Testament, as if the New Testament were just an extension of the Old.

The authors of this draft are clearly involved in the ecumenical heresy, which is conducted by intellectuals who have little or no contact with ordinary Orthodox and is conducted behind our backs, even behind the backs of bishops. There is here no dogmatic clarity at all, and yet that is the very thing we expect from a real Catechism. There is here no theology in the Orthodox ascetic sense. It would be better to throw away this draft of intellectuals and start again, this time employing Orthodox writers, who have ascetic, dogmatic and pastoral experience. They will know what is acceptable to us who strive to live an Orthodox way of life in our monasteries and parishes, where ordinary Orthodox strive to observe Russian Orthodox values and, for that matter, our dress code. Whoever the authors are, they need to realize that the 1960s are over and imitation Roman Catholic/Protestant Paris-Crestwood ‘theology’ with it. Get real! We live in 2017.

 

On the Non-Inevitability of Modernism

Once upon a time the pseudo-science of Marxism used to proclaim that its claims, like death and taxes, were inevitable. In a similar way the supporters of the theory of evolution used to proclaim that it too was the only ‘truth’ that counted, until real scientists pointed out that it was only a theory among many. Similarly, the EU used to proclaim that its aim of a United States of Europe was also inevitable, ‘like a man riding a bicycle you have to carry on towards it, otherwise you will fall off’. Actually if you are cycling (especially towards a cliff edge), you can easily stop without falling off and turn back, which is exactly what the pragmatists of Brexit have done. Modernists also use the same pseudo-scientific argument of inevitability to justify themselves. In a post-modernist world, their argument is particularly absurd and old-fashioned.

Thus, forty years ago I remember a priest of a modernist Western diocese of the old Patriarchate of Moscow (who later defrocked himself, ran away from his wife and then committed suicide) using exactly the same argument. ‘The Catholics had Vatican II, and we will follow them. It is inevitable. We will get rid of the iconostasis, have women around the altar table, have deaconesses, do away with clerical clothing and be modern like the Protestants and then the Catholics. It is just that we Orthodox are behind the others’. I have been reminded of his words recently, as a member of the Paris Archdiocese has said that since one of their priests in Belgium already accepts homosexual ‘marriage’ and that a priest under Constantinople in Finland actually does such ‘weddings’, ‘the rest of the Church will follow’. Inevitability? As in Crete?

A member of the Constantinople Archdiocese in North America has also recently questioned why New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was recently given the ‘Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Award’. After all, Cuomo is well known for his outspoken advocate of the pro-death (erroneously called pro-choice) movement. On 17 July 2014, Governor Cuomo referred to the defenders of the pre-born child as: “these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life … they have no place in the state of New York.” It seems a strange criticism when two years ago Vice-President Biden, who so lavishly praises the present Patriarch of Constantinople and has also tried hard to further the Church schism in the Ukraine and is another politician who is openly supportive of abortion, also received the same dubious masonic award.

To some it seems that an Orthodox Church accepting everything that liberal Protestantism and liberal Catholicism accept, including homosexual clergy, teenage girls ‘dancing’ around the altar and guitar ‘masses’, is inevitable. After all, they say, ‘we are all subject to the same sociological processes’. Such people, inherently secularist and faithless, have no understanding that this is a typically Catholic/Protestant/Secularist/Western attitude. The Church is precisely the only organism (not organization) that is not subject to ‘sociological processes’ (four Local Churches resisted Crete), but to the processes of the grace of God, processes of the Holy Spirit. If the apostles and martyrs had been subject to ‘sociological processes’, they would have censed the demons (‘gods’) as they were asked to. Instead, they refused – and became saints, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The point is that none of the incredible secularization undergone by Protestantism and Catholicism in the last fifty years (or in the previous centuries either) is inevitable. However, this is true only as long as long as we have the Holy Spirit and not empty-hearted rationalism, that is the ‘fleshly wisdom’ of the spirit of the world – and we know who the prince of the world is. As the apostate scholastic Abelard wrote 900 years ago in the Prologue to his work ‘Sic et Non’: ‘The Fathers had the Holy Spirit, but we do not’. For the interest of the apostate descendants of Abelard, the word ‘Fathers’ means ‘the (Orthodox) Church’, in other words: ‘The (Orthodox) Church has the Holy Spirit, but the others do not’. There is nothing inevitable about modernism, just as there is nothing inevitable about any other form of apostasy.

The Wisdom of God or the Rationalism of Man: The Church or Paris-Crestwood

But, lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand Thy wisdom secretly.
(Ps 50, 6)

For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart…Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe….Greeks seek wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified…unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto those who are called…Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
(I Cor 1, 19-24)

1. Introduction

First of all, I would like to thank Cornelia and all of you for inviting me here. I am honoured indeed to be among you. As I have subtitled this very brief talk ‘The Church or Paris/Crestwood’, let me just say as an introduction that I myself studied at the St Sergius Institute of Theology in Paris and that I know many who studied at St Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood. And let me say that I have met among those former students deeply Orthodox people. Therefore, when I speak of ‘Paris-Crestwood’, I am not talking of persons, but of isms, not of people, but of ideologies, not of sinners (I am first among us), but of sins. Just as many Church Fathers, the Cappadocians among them, as well as heretics, studied in Athens or Alexandria, so today a place does not create a heresy, it is a heresy that can infect a place. The main title of my address is indeed Wisdom versus Rationalism, which I believe are the two factors which lie behind all contemporary and also all ancient debate within the Church.

2. Wisdom

I have never liked the word ‘philosophy’. It has, to my mind, many negative, abstract connotations, like the word ‘philosophize’, which suggests futile hairsplitting. I would much prefer to translate the word ‘philosophy’ into English and say ‘love of Wisdom’ and would like to think that we here are not ‘philosophers’, but lovers of Wisdom. Our name is Sophia / Sapientia / Sagesse / Weisheit / Wisdom / Mudrost. We are devoted to Wisdom. Wisdom, as in the Books of Wisdom in the Old Testament, in the Book of Proverbs and in the Wisdom of Solomon, as also in the proverbial wisdom of all peoples, means understanding through experience, the understanding of the heart.

Here I speak of course not of the heart in the loose, emotional sense, but of the heart as nous, the eye of the heart, the doors of perception, the window into heaven, the spiritual essence of our being that connects us to the Divine. For when the heart is affected by an event, action follows because the seat of the will is in the heart, and not in the brain, mind or reason. The ignorance of this fact defines the fundamental error of Western civilization, wherein lie the seeds of its own self-destruction, which we are so tragically seeing today. This fact of course is why one learned professor can rant and rave against the Almighty, but another equally learned can praise Him as the Source of all our being: learning brings no conclusions regarding faith.

For Wisdom does not depend on the development of the mind, on how much we know or have read, not on Parisian ‘Sophiology’, but on the Galilean Wisdom of the heart. And that is also why an ‘unsophisticated’ peasant, a village greybeard, like a fisherman of Galilee ‘made most wise’, can be far wiser than any Parisian philosopher. If the heart is not affected, then all knowledge will remain theoretical, abstract, and without action, for only the experience of the heart leads to action. As we know, ‘actions speak louder than words’, and only personal experience and example can lead to conversion. As the Psalmist says: ‘The fool has said in his heart, there is no God’ (Ps 13, 1). Here we note that it is written ‘in his heart’, not ‘in his mind’.

Wisdom can thus be contrasted with knowledge, science and reason. The Apostle Paul describes the latter as ‘fleshly wisdom’ and opposed to the grace of God (2 Cor 1, 12), or, as he writes elsewhere, ‘to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life (Romans 8, 6). Here, of course, the word ‘flesh’ does not mean the body, but has the Pauline and Patristic sense of ‘fallen human nature’. The body does not sin by itself, it is merely an instrument of our fallen will, to be used for good or for bad, for example, to procreate saints or to procreate monsters; just as we can use our hands to bless or to curse. The body is directed not by itself, but by the will, and the will is directed by the experiences and so understanding of the heart.

This is why the aim of our Orthodox Christian life is not the cultivation of the mind, but the cultivation of the heart, whereby alone we shall ‘see God’. This happens through repentance and leads to enlightenment by the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, that is, Theosis or Divinization. Knowledge, science and reason are what belong to fallen human nature, they come from the five senses, they are rationalistic. However, Wisdom belongs to inspired human nature, it comes from what some call the sixth sense, it is meta-rational. Wisdom is the knowledge obtained not from books, but from the purity of the heart. And that motivates the will and so leads to actions and it is our actions, not our theoretical knowledge, that will be judged at the Last Judgement.

3. The Change from Wisdom to Rationalism: The First Millennium West and the Second Millennium West

Approximately until the end of the first millennium, as Western Europe was still largely Orthodox, it espoused Wisdom, whereas in the second millennium it reverted, in innumerable ‘renaissances’ or rebirths, to pre-Christian rationalism. This was that very pagan rationalism or Gnosticism, worship of knowledge, that the Church had battled against at the Seven Universal Councils. Who had Origen, Arius and Nestorius been? Who had the iconoclasts been? They had all been rationalists who could never accept the inherent antinomies that One is Three, that God became man, that God destroyed death by death, or that a painted board is not a mere picture, but can carry the Holy Spirit and work miracles, weeping, bleeding, pouring out myrrh and healing.

Later the Wisdom of St Gregory Palamas would again oppose in antinomy the rationalism of Barlaam of Italy by explaining how the energies or glory of God can transfigure mankind, while the essence of God is unknowable to mere creation. In any age the rationalist can never accept contradiction because he is shackled to the earth by his fallen mind and cannot see beyond the end of his nose, as far as his heart. The chief sign of this transformation in Western Europe is how in the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Wisdom of the Ascetic Monastery, where the heart was to be cleansed and so the mind enlightened, was replaced by the Science of the Scholastic University, where the potential of the heart was neglected and the fallen mind idolized.

As Abelard in the Prologue to his ‘Sic et Non’ put it: ‘The Fathers were guided by the Holy Spirit, but it is lacking among us’. Philippe Wolff, in his L’Eveil Intellectuel de l’Europe, p. 196, describes the early twelfth century: ‘Activity deserted the old monasteries and headed, in expanded form, for the Cathedral schools and the chapters of urban clergy’. This was the beginning of Scholasticism, rational analysis and discursive reason, applying the use of dianoia instead of the nous, applying the dialectic of the pagan Aristotle to Revelation, as did the late eleventh-century Anselm of Canterbury. He preferred the order of man to the order of God, replacing the quest for holiness with the quest for study, replacing the Monastery with the university.

However, Anselm’s ‘faith seeking understanding’ within just a few decades became the impossible ‘understanding seeking faith’, which in its ultimate phase descended into ‘absence of understanding caused by absence of faith’. As R. I. Moore put it in his ‘The First European Revolution’, pp. 190-1: (By the early twelfth century) ‘charisma had been replaced by institutional authority, or, in plainer language, intellectual status, and access to the power it could confer, were passed down from the top, instead of up from the bottom’. And as Haskins put it in his ‘The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century’: ‘In 1100 the school followed the master and in 1200 the master followed the school’. No mention here of the heart or of the monastery.

Later, at the Council of Florence, when a Georgian envoy was asked whose authority he accepted, he replied: ‘St Peter, St Paul, St Basil, Gregory the Theologian; a fig for your Aristotle, Aristotle’ (see Gill’s ‘The Council of Florence’, p. 227). The reasoning of the syllogism, the reasoning of the Hellenes, led in the nineteenth century to the dialectics of Hegel and so of Marx, and is not the language of the Church of God. The Orthodoxophile Kireyevsky wrote in the nineteenth century: ‘Rome preferred the abstract syllogism to Holy Tradition…Rome left the Church because she desired to introduce into the faith new dogmas, unknown to Holy Tradition, dogmas which were by nature the accidental products of Western logic’ (Collected Works, Vol I, p. 226).

4. The Church or Paris-Crestwood

Over the last thousand years neo-pagan rationalism has spread worldwide and is called ‘globalization’, in other words, the world, whose prince is satan. The Church opposes this rationalism with Her Wisdom. At this very moment the battle between the age-old Wisdom of the Church and the second millennium rationalism of this world, which is revived paganism, is reaching a peak. This is the culmination of the battle between the Church and the German-inspired, Gnostic, humanist philosophy that infected Russian thought in the 20th century, from mantra-like Name-worshipping to Renovationism, from Bulgakov to Afanasyev, from Schmemann to Zizioulas. Today’s essential opposition on an island in the Mediterranean is also between Wisdom and rationalism.

It is not a question of denying the uses of rationalism, it is rather making sure that we make use of rationalism, the human reason, where it is needed and appropriate and do not use it to solve problems where, not rationalism, but Wisdom, is needed and appropriate. If we are to solve a problem of electrical supply, or leaking pipes, or engine pistons, or software engineering, let us use rationalism. However, if we are to solve a problem of human relations, of the improvement of the character, that is, the spiritual problem of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit through prayer, fasting, askesis and repentance, or if we are to express the truths of the Faith in dogmatic form, let us use Wisdom, which is meta-rational, the Art of Arts and the Science of Sciences.

All the controversies around this present conference in Crete have revolved around the use of Wisdom and the use of rationalism. We can see this in one of the items which those invited are not going to talk about – the calendar. The rational see only the Earth revolving around the Sun, but the meta-rational see the Earth revolving around the Holy Trinity. In order to avoid this opposition, this item was dropped from the agenda. However, we can also see the opposition in what they are going to talk about, for example, about relations with the heterodox world outside the Church. Here we have seen much use of spiritually empty reasoning, but, it seems to me, very little use of spiritually beneficial Wisdom, much use of knowledge, but little use of understanding.

Truly, at this Crete conference we see once more the age-old discussion between the Wisdom of the Church and the rationalism of Paris-Crestwood, between Jerusalem and Athens, between the way of the kingdom and the way of the world. This conference in Crete may yet become a Council, but only if the Holy Spirit descends on it. In that case it will become Great and Holy. If not, it will remain merely little and secular. We believe that since all the Seven Universal Councils in fact defeated rationalism by Wisdom, defeated the small-minded logic of the created mind by the Love of the Creator, today after a millennium of rationalism, we could do no better in this third millennium than to reiterate the truths proclaimed at the Seven Councils.

Let us consider the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. It shows the disciples becoming apostles, mere men inspired by the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit, as it descends from the heavens. At the bottom of the Icon is a crowned figure, the Cosmos, the knowledge of the world from all the ages. He is outshone, outclassed, by fire, by the Wisdom that comes from God, for Christ is the Word and Wisdom of God. He receives the slap of St Nicholas in the face of rationalism. This is expressed in Church Slavonic not by the ordinary word for Wisdom, Mudrost, but by the word Premudrost, meaning Supreme Wisdom, the Wisdom of God, so much greater than the rationalism of man, for ‘in Wisdom hast Thou made them all’ (Ps 103.24).

5. Conclusion
Premudrost, Supreme Wisdom, the Word and Wisdom of God, is the source of all Wisdom, Mudrost, for the Creator is the source of all creation, the Divine is the source of all human. Any other attitude is idolatrous. This is why we do not call the eighteenth century or a university education ‘enlightenment’, for the sacrament of holy baptism and the Feast of Christ’s Baptism are ‘Enlightenment’. This is also why in the ninth prayer before communion St John Chrysostom writes that, ‘Thou wilt come in and enlighten my darkened reasoning’. This is why at the first prayer of thanksgiving after holy communion we pray that the body and blood may be ‘for the enlightening of the eyes of my heart’ and ‘for the fulfilling of wisdom’. For without this purification by the Holy Spirit, we shall have no Wisdom, only knowledge, science and rationalism. And though these latter have their uses, they are on a lower level than Wisdom, which is on a lower level than Supreme Wisdom, the Source of all Wisdom.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Prepared for SOPHIE (The Society of Orthodox Philosophers in Europe) in Fulda, Germany, 24 June 2016, by the prayers of St Boniface.