Category Archives: Theology

Senator J D Vance: A Question to the Russian Orthodox Church

A member of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), between 1974 and 1977 I studied in Oxford under the ever-memorable Metr Kallistos (Ware), then taught in Greece and went on to study at the St Sergius Institute of Theology in Paris. In January 1981 I was tonsured reader by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Antony of Sourozh (ROC) at the Dormition Cathedral in London. In December 1991, after a decade in which I discovered bishops with mistresses and bishop-freemasons, I was ordained priest by a bishop of integrity. This was the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), the successor of St John of Shanghai and Western Europe. This ordination followed seven years of service as a deacon in the Russian Orthodox Church. I served faithfully and without recompense as a priest for thirty years, in France, in Portugal, setting up the first ever Russian parish there, and in England.

In May 2012 I was awarded my first jewelled cross in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow by His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill. This was for my efforts in helping to bring the very small, New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) back into communion with the ROC Mother Church and fighting against the American sectarianism which had infected it in the USA. I believe that this was very much in accord with what would have been the wishes of St John and Archbishop Antony. In July 2018 I had the privilege of being in Ekaterinburg on the night of the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of Tsar Nicholas II, his August Family and faithful servants, together with the Russian Patriarch and a host of other clergy. Then at midnight I walked the 13 miles together with 120,000 other Russian Orthodox faithful to Ganina Yama, the place where the atheists had first tried to bury the Imperial Martyrs and their servants.

On 10 April 2021, a new and highly controversial ROCOR bishop in London, a young American neophyte who had not long been a clergyman of ROCOR, was not educated in a seminary and was pastorally very inexperienced, publicly declared his intention to break communion with other Orthodox Churches. This included with the Western European Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) – the ROC is over 130 times larger than ROCOR. His unilateral decision came because he no longer accepted the age-old practice of the ROC of not receiving Catholic priests and people into the Church by rebaptism, but by confession and communion. He also told his laypeople that they could no longer take communion in that part of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), where we have had close family members and friends since the 1970s, because they had followed the traditional ROC practice. Thus, ROCOR created a schism with the Mother-Church.

For us this was the imposition of Lutheran-style sectarianism and an attack on canonicity, experience and practice. Excommunication, dividing faithful Russian Orthodox into two separate groups, was unacceptable to us who had strived so long for unity. We are Orthodox Christians, not Donatist schismatics. As we had no desire to belong to a right-wing American sect which is what ROCOR had become, we carefully discussed what our canonical path would be and made discreet enquiries. Finally, after disappointment with the response of the ROC, on 16 February 2022, after four hours of negotiations with the Romanian Orthodox Church involving the chief canonical adviser of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, our deanery of twelve clergy, six parishes and church buildings, some 5,000 people, 99.5% of those who had sought canonical refuge, were received into the local Romanian Metropolia, which is three times larger than the whole of ROCOR.

Our theological conscience was unable to agree to being part of a schism. Thus, we entered with joy into the four-million strong Synod of eight bishops under Metropolitan Joseph (Pop) of Western and Southern Europe of the Patriarchate of Romania. It seems then that the ROC wishes to abandon its centuries-old practice of receiving Non-Orthodox by chrismation, or confession and communion, that is, by economy. This was the case of the future martyrs, Tsarina Alexandra and Grand Duchess Elizabeth, received by the future St John of Kronstadt by chrismation. More recently, in the 1970s both Metr Antony of Sourozh (ROC) and the now St Sophrony the Athonite (Patriarchate of Constantinople), both of whom I knew well, publicly rejected the reception of Non-Orthodox into the Orthodox Church by rebaptism. It seems to us that the denial of this issue of principle preceded the catastrophe of the ROC that befell it eight days later.

For within eight days of our transfer to the Romanian Orthodox Church, the ROC fell into the pastoral disaster of multiple divisions in countries outside the Russian Federation, as the conflict in the Ukraine began. At a time when the probably future President of the USA has chosen a conscious Catholic, Senator J D Vance, a man close to the Orthodox Faith, as his running mate, therefore the probable future Vice-President and possibly the succeeding President of the USA in 2028, this is serious. Senator Vance is a friend of the ROC and has openly stated that the Ukraine must make peace with Russia, returning Russian territory to the Russian Federation. This Catholic Senator has denounced the persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onufry by the Kiev regime and also appears to support the dissolution of NATO. Does the Russian Orthodox Church want Senator Vance to believe that it considers that Catholics are unbaptised?



The Church: A Warm Sun or a Black Hole?

About five years ago I chanced to meet a group of three converts from the Baptist denomination to the Antiochian jurisdiction. Their first question to me was: ‘It is true that Non-Orthodox will burn in hell, isn’t it?’ To which I replied: ‘Ask God if He hates people as much as you do’.

The sad fact is, especially in these crazy days of rebaptism and ‘corrective baptism’, that there are those for whom the Church is like a black hole. It sucks in people and they disappear into the darkness. Apparently, there are people who like this. Such people do not belong to the Church, but to sociopathic or even psychopathic sects. Narcissism or sadism, whatever the problem may be, they have yet to get to the letter A of the Church alphabet and understand that the Church is not a washing-line on which to peg out their personal psychological problems. The Church is the place of Theology, that is to say, of the knowledge of the Word of God and His Love for us, not of the psychopathology of neophytes, even if by error they have been made priests and bishops.

For us, the Church is not a black hole, but the Warm Sun. From it comes Light and Warmth, for the Sun is an image of the Holy Trinity: The Sun is the Father, the Light (of the world) is Christ-God, and the Warmth is the Holy Spirit. The Sun sucks in no-one, but it radiates, for as it says, the rain falls on the good and the bad alike, and so also the sun shines on the good and the bad alike. This is why we totally reject the psychopathological idea of rebaptism. Those who have been baptised with water in the Name of the Holy Trinity, although outside the Orthodox Church, but have since come into contact with the grace of the Holy Spirit radiating out from the Church, the Body of Christ, have no need for the rite of baptism in the Name of the Holy Trinity to be repeated.

The same is true of the other sacrament forms of Roman Catholicism (Classic Protestantism only has one potential sacrament – baptism). They are all sacramental forms, potential sacraments. It is the Light and the Warmth of the Sun that renders them real. If you do not believe this, then please return to the sect from which you came. Or else please go and see a psychiatrist.



In the Protestant, Neo-Protestant and Anglican denominations, with all their ramifications and sub-kingdoms, which, from the end of the second millennium, have gone on multiplying like weeds on an unploughed field, there has been a great deal of stir with the ordination of women. The New Order of Things (Novus Ordo Seculorum) operates pre-eminently in the spiritual field.

It seems that political correctness has won and, in the spirit of equality of opportunity, of professional non-discrimination, ‘good news’ is increasing. We not only have Christian priestesses…we also have Christian bishopesses! The arguments which motivate this trend go back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, while invoking the practices of Non-Christian religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

There is a lot of pressure on Roman Catholicism, but Pope Francis has remained firm on the their position: with all due respect and consideration for Roman Catholic women’s activities, as long as he is Pope, women will not be ordained to the priesthood. What is the argument? Jesus and His Apostles were men! True, but what are we supposed to do about the Mother of God, or Mary Magdalene, or the holy empress Helen, those who are called ‘equal to the Apostles’?

At this point, there must be a much stronger, much more logical and more serious argument…

In order for us to find it, we have to go back to the creation of the world. Then, God has formed Adam from the dust, (in Hebrew adama – ground, dust):”Then God formed man out of dust from the ground, and breathed in his face the breath of life; and man became a breathing soul”(Genesis, 2, 7). [ii] As for Eve, she was formed out of one of Adam’s ribs: Then the Lord God brought a trance upon Adam; and after he fell asleep, God took one of his ribs and filled up the flesh in its place. And out of the rib taken from Adam the Lord God has formed the woman and brought her to Adam. Then Adam has said:”This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man”(Genesis: 2, 21-23). ”So Adam called his wife’s name Eve (Life), because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis, 3, 20) (in Hebrew Eve is Hava – the living one). Eve and her followers give life (but do not take life) by giving birth to babies.

Let us go on to Abraham and Sarah.

Then God said again to Abraham:”As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And will bless her and also give you a son by her; and I will bless him, and he shall become nations; and kings of peoples shall be from him.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his mind:”Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old, and shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” ”Then God said: No, Sarah, your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him and an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis, 17, 15-17, 19). And where God wants, He changes the order of nature and cancels the barrenness of old age and Sarah gives birth/brings to life Isaac, from the seed of Abraham. ”For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in old age, at the set time, of which God has spoken to him” (Genesis, 21, 2). What a huge joy for both parents! But, when Isaac was a boy, God put Abraham to test: ”Take now your beloved son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains I tell you” (Genesis, 22, 2). We are not told by the Holy Scriptures what was going on in Abraham’s soul. Abraham arrived at Mt Moriah and when he was about to sacrifice Isaac, God stopped him: ”Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know you fear God, since for My sake you have not spared your beloved son” (Genesis, 22, 12). All of this episode is a prefiguration of our Saviour’s sacrifice on the Cross. ”He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,…” (Romans 8, 32).

Let us now turn to the feminist version. God does not ask Abraham, but Sarah to take everything required and climb to the indicated place to sacrifice Isaac, whom she has borne in her womb, to whom she has given life, body and blood from her own body and blood. How would Sarah have reacted? What would God have said about a mother who, without pondering too much, lifts up a knife to sacrifice her own child?

Some with a prolific imagination see Mary Magdalene among the Apostles at the Mystical Supper. But why did Jesus Christ not invite His own Mother? Was it not truly right for her to be awarded a kind of priority by her Son?

The only thing we have to stress here is that the Supper was not a normal one, it was a sacrificial Supper, the premiere of the Sacrifice on the Cross:

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Lk 22, 19-20).

The Saviour asks the Apostles (at that moment they did not understand what he was talking about) to do this in remembrance of Him, by replacing the Roman soldiers who nail Him to the Cross and pierce His side with a spear. Who shall teach them how to do this? ”…the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jn 14, 26).

And ever since, from Pentecost, from the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, through uninterrupted apostolic and faith succession, in the Orthodox Church, within the framework of the Divine Liturgy, the priests really do sacrifice Christ, Who offers Himself to the faithful in the form of  bread and wine. At the Proskomedia (preparation table), with a knife (called a lance), whose cutting edge is in the form of a lance, the priest takes out of the offertory bread the Lamb (Agnus), and small particles and places them on the Paten (Diskos). Why? Since”I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world…Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed…He who eats this bread will live forever” (Jn, 6, 51, 53-55, 58). No man, as long as he is sane in his mind, will ever put in his mouth human body and blood. And with good reason, the Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying:”How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” (Jn 6, 52).

After invoking the Holy Spirit, that is, after the consecration of the Gifts, (the Lamb and the wine), in the Chalice (Cup) there is, in a real way, the very Body and Blood of our Saviour. How the bread and the wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ – this is a mystery, something which cannot be understood either by angels or by men. By going back to the origins, we shall find neither grains of wheat, nor clusters of grapes, but the very bloody Christ on the Cross. For those who have doubted (even monks!), God, most benevolent and most merciful, showed to them that in the little spoon borne to the mouth there is indeed body and blood. The one who was about to partake of Holy Communion fell ill on the spot.

Consequently, while the sacrifice (execution) of Jesus Christ within the framework of the Orthodox Liturgy is real, woman cannot be an executioner, she cannot take life by virtue of the fact that she gives life. Where there no longer exists (and there does not exist, even if it is claimed) uninterrupted apostolic and faith succession, the Eucharist is a simulacrum, a mockery, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine. In other words, Christ is absent from the Cup. Even if it is only a symbolical fact, the vision of women who gesture, acting as priestesses and bishopesses in order to sacrifice, is a horror.

Nicusor Gliga / Bucharest, Romania, 14 February 2014

(Translated into English by Fr. Dumitru Macaila / Romania)


[i] Even if there is no feminine form for this term in English, I have coined it; I could have coined it as she-bishopesses, also, to help people to understand that in the Orthodox Church there is no feminine form for the two terms.

[ii] All of the Biblical quotations are taken from The Orthodox Study Bible by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, 2008.



From Recent Correspondence (November 2017)


Q: Why does heterodoxy speak so little about the Holy Spirit?

A: The short answer is because of the replacement of the Holy Spirit by the Pope of Rome, and then by anyone with Western values, as expressed by the ideology of the filioque, which changed the Creed. Instead of the Holy Spirit, heterodoxy preaches Western power politics (colonialism and neo-colonialism, the invasions, genocides and asset-stripping of other countries, beginning with that of the Saxons by Charlemagne).

This is combined with ‘contemplation’ and ’meditation’, which is either intellectualism (for example, the Jesuits and Dominicans) or else sentimentalism (pietism with its ‘Jesus loves you’ and charismaticism – which has almost nothing to do with sobriety and the Holy Spirit). Intellectualism says that we must study and show off our intellectual knowledge. It is pagan philosophy (Aristotle and Plato) mascarading as theology. Sentimentalism is all about ‘love’, but never explains how we can attain love through, which is in repentance, fasting and sobriety.

Unlike intellectualism and sentimentalism, real spiritual knowledge comes from the nous, the heart, not as the seat of the emotions, but as the purified centre of the human-being, illumined by the Holy Spirit, which expresses itself as Love.

Q: For Orthodox there is not only Scripture, but also Tradition. But is one more important than another?

A: I must disagree with you. What you say is pure Scholasticism a la Timothy Ware. For us there is no difference between Scripture and Tradition, for both are manifestations of the same Holy Spirit. For Orthodox there is only the Holy Spirit, Whom we must acquire as our aim, and He is the authority of the Church. He is manifested to us in many different ways, through Scripture, the Dogmas of the Church, the canons, the lives and writings of the saints, those who have received ‘theosis’, liturgical life, the Fathers, Church Councils, the sacraments, prayer, asceticism, martyrdom, prophecy etc.

To insist on ‘Scripture’ alone is a sort of Bibliolatry, Bible-worship, made possible only through printing, and to insist on ’Tradition’, or any other items from the above list, including Councils, lends itself to a dangerous vagueness. The Church is governed by the Holy Spirit because the Church is the Glorified and Risen Body of Christ. It is as simple as that.

Q: What are your views of the trends in Orthodox Theology called Personalism and Eucharistic Theology?

A: For me they are not part of theology, the knowledge of God, but are philosophical and belong to the domain of privileged upper and middle-class academics, not of those who pray, who are real theologians. Personalism was part of the then existentialist philosophical current in France and was adopted by anti-monastic Paris Russian intellectuals, who included even the more Orthodox Lossky. Based purely on Western secular humanism, personalism exalts sinful human-beings to the level of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. It thus has little concept of the Fall, repentance and asceticism.

Eucharistic Philosophy (as I prefer to call it) was also a Paris invention, with the same philosophical and anti-monastic origins, written about especially by Fr Nikolai Afanasiev, then adopted and developed by Metr John Zisioulas. The Paris Russians adopted it as anti-ascetic ideology, based on Protestant congregationalism, but Metr John developed it in a Roman Catholic direction as self-justification for Papal-like episcopal power, which is part of the ideology of the Phanar. With its titular bishops, one of whom is Metr John, the Phanar has ironically, based itself on a philosophy of the understanding of the Church as the eucharist presided over by a bishop.

Both philosophies are spiritually primitive, now old-fashioned and dying out, and belong to the realms of psychology and sociology, more than to theology.

Q: Do you have a favourite Church Father?

A: Yes, St Ambrose of Milan, as he was a particularly pragmatic theologian, always putting into practice and living his faith.

Q: Roman Catholics talk about the Four Latin Doctors and the Four Greek Doctors, as though there was a kind of equality between East and West. Is this the Orthodox view?

A: This sort of ethnic division is very artificial, very scholastic, humanistic, rather like the absurd myth of seeing the Church as a human body with two lungs, East and West!. In reality, there are only Church Fathers, whatever their origin, Syrian, Greek, Latin, Georgian, Egyptian, Russian, Serbian, east, west, north and south….For there are Church Fathers to our day, like St Justin (Popovich). And the Roman Catholic designation also excludes one of the greatest Latin Church Fathers, St John Cassian, and instead includes much less important figures like Blessed Augustine and Blessed Jerome!

The Convert Movement

Q: What do you think of Ancient Faith Radio?

A: I have heard of it, but have never heard it. I know that it is run by American ex-Evangelicals for converts and Evangelicals, whom it wants to convert. I do think that it has a strange name: my faith and that of 220 million other Orthodox is not ancient, but contemporary.

Q: Do you think that Fr Seraphim Rose will be canonized?

A: Only God can answer that question. What I have noticed, however, is that his popularity has waned over the last ten years, as the newly converted have moved onto more solid fare. I think we may find that interest in his writings for converts will fade further with time.

Heterodox History

Q: Why did the West historically fail to convert China and India to Christ? And what of contemporary Protestantism in China, which has had some success?

A: Western missionary movements succeeded superficially among animist peoples in the Americas, Africa and Oceania, but they failed miserably elsewhere. Not only in India, China and the Islamic world in Africa and Asia, but also in the Christian world in Eastern Europe and Russia, up until this day (the exception being among a few million pathetically nationalist Uniats in the Ukraine and a few sectarians). This failure came about because these movements were and are largely movements to spread Western imperialism, both economic and cultural.

Such Western missionaries were called foreign devils by the local inhabitants because, usually without realizing it themselves, the missionaries spread the propaganda of their paymasters, rather than the Word of God. This was crystal clear to the exploited local inhabitants. After all, devils do not realize themselves that they spread the message of Satan because they have no consciousness, but are merely slaves conditioned to obey. In India, for example, people said that they could not become Christians because it would mean ‘wearing trousers’, i. e. Western dress.

The US uses Protestant missionaries in Iran and especially China in order to try and sabotage those countries (just as they tried to do in Russia in the 1990s). From the Chinese Protestants I have come across, they seem to associate Protestantism with a get rich quick mentality, precisely the opposite of what Christianity is about. Put crudely, if you are not rich, it is because God has not blessed you because you are not Protestant like Americans. In other words, Chinese conversion is very superficial. Just as US missionaries ‘converted’ some Russians in the 1990s by giving them dollar bills, so too this is all shallow. It will not last.

Q: What do you think of the recent visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Moscow?

A: This is part of Church diplomacy, important when the present UK Establishment, as ever using its organs like the BBC and the gutter press to issue fake news, has taken such a violently Russophobic, neo-Cold War attitude towards Russia. Thus, the present Prime Minister has promised to waste a further £500 million of public money on fake news propaganda against Russia. For me the most interesting moment was when Patriarch Kyrill asked the Archbishop if he had the courage to resist the tyranny of political correctness of atheistic Western governments. There was no answer.

Q: What is the most important question that you would ask heterodox today?

A: The same as that I would ask all Orthodox: Do you belong to Christian Civilization and its values or not? This question is vital because we belong to a world which, whether it is geographically Western or not, is full of Western atheism. For example, do we consider the organized violence of ideological totalitarianism, on which Western countries have been based ever since the eleventh century (the Norman Invasion and the First Crusade, followed by the Inquisition, Wars of ‘Religion’, Puritan intolerance, Imperialism, Communism, Fascism and today’s New World Order Neo-Imperialism), as part of our way of life or not? In Western Europe: Do we accept that the State has the right to intimidate and persecute our free speech in the name of political correctness? In Russia: Do we accept alcoholism, abortion, corruption, divorce and ecological disaster (ABCDE) as permissible in the life of Christians? Are you ‘real Christians’ (which is what the words ‘Orthodox Christian’ mean), having a Christian way of life and confessing Christian values in all spheres of life, spiritual, moral, social, political and economic?



The Battle Against Intellectualism

I can still remember the 1970s when I bought icons (without haloes) from Jordanville, portraying St Elizabeth the New Martyr and St John of Shanghai. They hang in the altar of the Church where I serve to this day. Equally I can remember the abuse hurled at the Church Outside Russia at the long-awaited canonization of the New Martyrs and Confessors in November 1981. Those who hurled the abuse went strangely quiet when what had had to be begun in New York, given the politically enforced paralysis of the Church in Moscow, was confirmed in Moscow in 2000. This merely confirmed the hypocrisy and political prejudice of those who had attacked us.

Thus, I can recall the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva who faced down the proud doubters in the holiness of the Royal Martyrs, including a Roman Catholic baptised in his own blood, among his own ROCOR flock in Brussels and Paris, telling them that they need not venerate the icons of the Royal Martyrs, confident that they would come round in time, as spiritual experience persuaded them that they had been wrong. The same patience was shown in London by Bishop Constantine, a man of holiness himself, towards doubting members of the ROCOR Cathedral there. And in the USA, even the well-known iconographer, Fr Kiprian (Pyzhov) had been opposed to the canonization of the Royal Martyrs, but through prayer, he too came round to the Orthodox view.

Indeed, I can remember one man, now, ironically, a hieromonk ordained by a ROCOR bishop, who on the day of the canonization of the New Martyrs in 1981, vehemently informed me that the Grand Duchess Anastasia had not been martyred because she was identical to a woman known as Anna Anderson, who claimed to be the Grand Duchess. Despite witnesses like the ever-memorable Fr Nicholas Gibbes (The Grand Duchess’ tutor), who had immediately seen that she was a fraud, that man insisted on his opinion. Of course, he came to eat humble pie when DNA tests later proved what the faithful had known all along, that Anna Anderson had indeed been a fraud.

Far more disturbing than the fact that such people attacked us, motivated by secular politics, is the fact that they were attacking the saints. Here great caution is needed. When righteous men and women are venerated among the faithful, when their lives are examined closely and found to contain miracles of healing and prophecies, all of which came true, we should pay attention. Sometimes, their relics are not available because they have been destroyed by infidel liberals like Kerensky or else by Bolsheviks. Such righteous, despite slanders, eventually come to be venerated by many because of the spiritual experience that people have of them in their prayers. Then the hierarchy of the Church investigates and canonizes, always cautiously, always slowly, but the right decision is reached, even though, as in the case of the Royal Martyrs, certain bishops were originally strongly opposed.

The fact that intellectuals do not like the saints is because they do not like holiness, which is what the saints are made of. Why this reaction to the saints? Quite simply because holiness is outside their control, outside the sphere of their purely rationalistic, non-spiritual experience and so they despise it. Such intellectuals study what is called in Russian ‘teologija’ (scientific theology’), not ‘Bogoslovie’ (‘the Word of God’) and come from secular universities and secular-minded institutes, not from monasteries, which are Orthodox universities. It was ever thus. Such was the fate of the Gnostic heretic Origen, so beloved of the Paris-Crestwood School, of the intellectuals Arius, Nestorius and Barlaam, the latter of whom opposed his Western scholasticism to the spiritual experience of St Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica.

This is not to say at all that the use of the intellect (the reason) is bad in itself. Of course not, it is necessary. In the Church we have three great saints who bear the title ‘the Theologian’ – St John, St Gregory and St Symeon. Three – and no more. St Gregory, in particular, was very well educated in the intellect achievements of the day, like indeed, many, many other Church Fathers. Their triumph, however, was not in their use of their intellect, but in the fact of their spiritual experience (holiness), which they expressed with the use of their secularly trained intellect. Intellect is one thing, intellectualism, such as denying the miracle in the life of St John of Damascus and the Three-handed Icon of the Mother of God, is another.

In other words, the Church Fathers did not confuse the means (the intellect, the reason) with the end (holiness), which confusion is called not the use of the intellect, but ‘intellectualism’. Intellectualism is the spiritual disease which makes the reason (rationalism) the be all and the end all. It is not. The Church is not rationalist, which ism is tainted by fallen human pride and arrogance, but neither is She irrationalist. Irrationalism is obscurantist and narrow, the domain of phariseeism and spiritual impurity, just as much as rationalism. The Church is ‘meta-rational’, beyond reason, i.e, She follows the path of Holy Wisdom, ‘Sofia’ in Greek, ‘Premudrost’ in Slavonic.

The Christian goal was very well expressed by St Seraphim of Sarov in the century before last. He defined the aim of our lives, not as the collecting of secular knowledge, idle facts, but as the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. We can see this very clearly in the lives of three saints of the last century, St Silvanus the Athonite, a semi-literate Russian peasant, St Nicholas of Ochrid and St Justin of Chelije, the latter two of whom were very well-educated in Western Universities. The latter two used the intellectual formation which they had received in the West in order to express their spiritual experience, that of St Silvanus. No amount of doctorates, imitations and studies of abstract theories will, however, provide such spiritual experience.

In the Russian Church today, no longer persecuted, we are faced by the challenge of secular-minded intellectuals on the fringes of Church life, often with doctorates and degrees, who call themselves ‘theologians’, but who are not, because they do not have the spiritual experience that comes from suffering. Thus, their writings are superficial and do not provide spiritual food for the Orthodox faithful, but simply act as sleeping pills. The antidote to intellectualism is the living experience of the saints, especially, in the Russian Church, the feats of the New Martyrs and Confessors, who preferred the ‘meta-rational’, Risen Kingdom of God to the rationalist and irrationalist fallen republic of man.

The Russian Orthodox Church: Yesterday and Tomorrow

The Emperor and the Empress thought that they were dying for their homeland. But in fact they died for all mankind.

Pierre Gilliard, Swiss tutor to the Tsar’s children.


Ten years ago, in 2005, debate raged in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) about our relations with the Church inside Russia. Was it at last free and so could we enter into canonical communion and work together, building the future? Such was the debate that a Pan-Diaspora Church Council was called in San Francisco in 2006 in order to answer the questions posed. At that time we had to counter some very false arguments which were advanced in favour of sectarian self-isolation, arguments that were shaped by the impurity of politics and psychology, and not by the purity of theology. Below are examples.


The human weakness of Metropolitan (later Patriarch) Sergius (+ 1944) and his followers, as revealed in compromises with the atheist persecutor Stalin, known as ‘sergianism’, was erected by some into a ‘theological’ heresy. In fact, it was just another form of erastianism, of placing the State above the Church, of which there had already been so many examples in other forms in the Old Testament and in 1900 years of Church history. There was nothing theological in this, for it was only human weakness on the part of one who had found himself under huge pressure from a militant atheist State. No-one is to judge him for his weakness, there is no place for phariseeism here, for God is the Judge of all.

Though there was nothing of a dogmatic or theological nature in such compromises, certain individuals, partly under the influence of North American political puritanism, even concluded that the present-day sacraments of the Church inside Russia had somehow mysteriously ‘lost grace’ on account of this compromise of three generations before. As a ROCOR priest, I first came across this astonishing piece of politics masquerading as theology in 1992 from someone who was under the influence of this North American error. In fact, of course, sergianism is not a heresy, whereas puritanism, with its inherent impurity of Novatianism, Donatism and Eustathianism, as seen in the light of the canons of the Council of Gangra of 340, most certainly is.

The political and diplomatic support which a few in the Church inside Russia sought from Roman Catholics and Protestants, and called ecumenism, was also condemned. However, it was a very curious idea that the opinions or actions of a handful of individuals could be held up as a sign that the whole of the Church inside Russia, 160,000,000 people, was therefore somehow tainted by the heresy of ecumenism! In reality, most of the faithful inside Russia had never heard of ecumenism and those who had were utterly opposed to it. This was all the stranger, in that by 2005 ecumenism had in any case come to mean something very different from in its political heyday between the 60s and 80s. Instead of concerning itself with politically-enforced syncretistic compromise, in fact heresy, it had turned to having good-neighbourly relations with heterodox, something that ROCOR, with the many mixed marriages among parishioners and regular need to use heterodox premises for services, had always cultivated.

The strangest argument heard at that time was that we could not associate ourselves with the Church inside Russia in any way because of the compromises of a few individuals in it. This was an appalling error, for it would have meant that we could not associate ourselves with the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors. True, we, in freedom, had canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors first, in 1981, 19 years before the Church inside Russia had been able to do so by freeing itself. However, many, including myself, had wondered why we in the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), living in freedom, had so scandalously not canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors long before, from the 1920s on. We felt shame for ourselves.

The sad reason for the delay had been because elements in ROCOR were themselves contaminated with politics. Indeed, I well remember how in 1981 certain parishioners at the ROCOR Cathedral in London, as also elsewhere, had actually been opposed to the canonization. And in any case, the ROCOR canonization had only ever been a first step, a beginning. As I wrote at the time: What has begun in New York must come to completion in Moscow. Moreover, for lack of trustworthy information we had canonized only some 8,000; the Church inside Russia, with greater access to archives, has canonized well over 30,000 and that number is increasing.

Others said that we in ROCOR could have nothing to do with a Church whose bishops belonged to the KGB. I would have agreed with this – if any had belonged to the KGB, such as, we suspect, the defrocked schismatic Filaret Denisenko, now the darling of the CIA. In fact, they did not. The senior bishops inside Russia merely had KGB code names – in the same way as Western secular leaders, whom we prayed for in our services as civil leaders, had KGB code-names. The Church inside Russia could just as well have said: ‘We will have nothing to do with ROCOR because you pray for individuals who have KGB code-names’. It would have been just as false an argument.

Some in ROCOR admitted that there were members of our Church, in good standing, who worked or had worked for the CIA and other Western spy services. They countered this by saying that there were members of the KGB in churches inside Russia. This was totally false: the only KGB members who attended churches there were those who went there to spy, to note down names of priests or young people and create problems for them.

Sectarian elements in ROCOR objected that if we entered into canonical communion with the Church inside Russia, we would then be in communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church! I first heard this incredible argument, I think, in about 1999, when a ROCOR priest from London concelebrated with a priest of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This had raised an objection from a sectarian priest trained in North America. In the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, where I had been ordained and celebrated until 1997, such concelebrations were perfectly normal and happened regularly. As a ROCOR priest, I was amazed at this sectarian spirit, which I had hardly met before. The logic of this argument would be that we in ROCOR were no longer in communion with Mt Athos, which is in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Absolutely unthinkable! (Naturally, such sectarians later left ROCOR).

On a much more serious and practical level, there were those who pointed out that among representatives of the Church inside Russia in the Diaspora there were still corrupt and renovationist clergy at even the highest level, even though several had by then died out. This was a problem. Although these renovationists called us slanderers for telling the Truth and so shaming their false idols (as renovationists elsewhere still do), the problem was largely overcome in 2006, when most such clergy in England and France left the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia in a schism which they created; since then, two or three other such individuals have simply been removed, so they can no longer cause scandal and can at last learn the basics of the Faith.

Finally, there were those who said that we could not work together with the Church inside Russia because the situation in Russia was not as it had been before the Revolution. Soviet practices had infiltrated Russian society, alcoholism, abortion, corruption and divorce were rife, the mummy of the Russophobic murderer Lenin still lay on Red Square, and the squares and streets of Russia were littered with his statues or named after his henchmen. They demandingly demanded in fact that the post-Soviet Russian State (in charge of such matters) behave as though it were part of the Russian Church! In the face of this argument we pointed out that pre-Revolutionary Russia had not been ideal either (otherwise there would never have been a Revolution), we asked for compassion for a people deprived for three generations of a free Church, asked for patience and said that with time the Church will influence the State, since repentance, which we too are in need of, changes people.


The above arguments were rejected, with repentance for ever having entertained them, by well over 95% of ROCOR, dismissed as the arguments of schismatic impurity, of a tiny, sectarian, inward-looking and politicized minority, which had been trying to take over ROCOR, holding us back and impeding us from fulfilling our universal calling together with the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church, the great majority. As we know, in 2007 the vast majority of the hierarchy, clergy and people of our little ROCOR were happy to enter at last into canonical communion with the vast majority of the rest of the Church, of which we had always spiritually been a part. The separation, caused purely by political events exterior to the Church, was over. We were sure that the Church inside Russia had freed itself, as had already been made evident by the Jubilee Council of 2000. At long last, our inward unity could become outwardly apparent and, impediments removed, we could progress together towards our common destiny and ever more urgent mission.


A generation after the fall of State atheism in the Russian Federation, we see in Russia today most interesting developments, promising for the future. After the awful period of ‘law of the jungle’ capitalism in the 1990s, with its rule of seven bankers, ‘Wild East’ bandit privatizations and the appearance of pro-Western criminal oligarchs and liberals, Russia has largely seen through that alternative to Communism that was offered it by the consumerist Western world, which we too, living in the Western world itself, had already seen through.

Thanks largely to the chaos and misery that the Western Powers have been causing in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya, Syria and above all in the Ukraine, Russian society has seen through Eurosodom and Gomorrhica. If the CIA-installed Poroshenko junta, set up in Kiev, the Mother of Russian cities, wants the suicide of ‘European values’, it can have them. We will remain faithful to the values of St Vladimir and St Olga of Holy Kiev. Believing in Christ, Who trampled down death by death, we choose life. Believing in satan who tramples down life by death, they choose death. That is the difference between us.

Providentially, through the Western attacks on Holy Rus, Russian society has for the most part now come to understand that the West is not the solution. Russia must follow its own, historic, God-given way, the way that our saints and other lucid elements in ROCOR have always preached. As for Russia, it must heal itself and restore Holy Rus. Outside Russia, we can only pray and encourage, learning as we go, for our main task is to spread Orthodoxy outside the Russian Lands in faithfulness to Holy Rus. We are only humble disciples who follow the precepts of Holy Rus.

Interestingly, voices have been saying that Russian society today resembles 1917 Russia. However, unlike in 1917 the direction of today’s Russia is not 1918, but 1916. In other words, although the situation is delicate, Russia is not heading towards catastrophe as it was in 1917, but is heading back from it. Here is the difference. If, God willing, we continue on this God-given path, the Church of Russia will lead us to our destiny. What is this?

On account of the utter failure of imposed Western ideas there, we can say that Russia has seen the future and knows from bitter experience that it does not work. Today it is struggling its way back up from the pit, at the same time as the Western world, led by the United States, is hurtling headlong into it. Today, some of the more aware Western politicians and thinkers are going to Russia or following events in Russia in order to learn. Gerhard Schroeder, Nicolas Sarkozy, Phillippe de Villiers, Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, Paul Craig Roberts, Franklin Graham and others all follow events in Russia closely or visit.

Russia’s mystical and historic role now is to act as an intermediary between East and West, between China and Western Europe. For the spiritual destiny of China is to enter the authentic Orthodox Christian world, becoming the Eastern provinces of Holy Rus, just as the spiritual destiny of Western Europe, with its roots in Orthodox Christianity, is to return to it, with the help of its ancient saints, by becoming the Western provinces of Holy Rus. True, the towering national pride of Europeans largely prevents this, for where there is no humility, there is no salvation. Indeed, Russia’s task is now not to save Europe from the USA, as some have put it, but to save Europe from itself. Just as Russia, and not the West, was to blame for choosing the Western ideology that created the Russian Revolution in February 1917, we do not blame others for the present misfortune that Europeans have chosen for themselves.

The key to universal salvation in these last times is atonement, in the restoration of Holy Rus and in Holy Rus becoming universal. Following the Holy Trinity, we are called on not only to be Guardians and Gatherers of Holy Rus, following the Father and the Son, but also Spreaders of Holy Rus, following the Holy Spirit. Those, in East and West, who want to work with the Russian Orthodox Church and so, by following the Tradition, build up new Local Churches are welcome to do so. If some do not wish to do so and set themselves against the prophetic and mystical Church Tradition in tired, old, secularist and humanist neo-renovationism, then God be with them. We shall do God’s Will without them. We force no-one to follow the Church; the Church sails ahead without those who reject Her.

In 1917 the last Christian Emperor, the Tsar, did not abdicate. In 1917 Russia and the whole world abdicated from him, from the Christian Emperor and Christian Empire, and so from Christ. Since then there has been no peace on earth so that we have all had to atone, each receiving our penance in order to learn humility. Inside Russia the people faced the penances of persecution and Nazi invasion, outside Russia those in the emigration faced the penances of exile and isolation. As for Europe, like today’s USA also, it has faced the penance of war and humiliating loss of power and greatness. As for the rest of the world, it has faced constant strife and war, ever since ‘he who restrains’ (2 Thess 2, 7) was in 1917 removed. All the suffering of the world since 1917 has been the opportunity of all to learn humility.

Our destiny, mystical and prophetical, is to preach Holy Rus, the message of the last Christian Emperor, to the whole world for repentance before the end. The time is coming when the world will at last be ready to hear of Holy Rus, of the universality of the Incarnate Christ, authentic Christianity, and not the two diluted isms shaped by Western heathenism, pagan Romanism and northern barbarianism, that is, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.


My great-grandfather was born in the same year as Nicholas II, the last Christian Emperor who was martyred in Ekaterinburg in 1918. One hundred years after the Emperor’s birth and fifty years after his martyrdom, I, born on the anniversary of the day when the remains of the Imperial family were finally destroyed, received the message from the east that I was to learn and then go and speak of Holy Rus, Christ Incarnate, to those whom I met. This is not only my personal destiny, but also that of many others, as described so well in the poem ‘The Apostles’, written in exile in 1928 by the bard of the Tsar, Sergey Bekhteev:

Amid the darkness of the slavish world
We bear the spirit’s torch in victory
And we call loud to those chosen by God
To enter the hall where the Orthodox feast.

We walk along a road of thorns,
We soar above worldly vanity,
We are the apostles of Christ’s Faith,
We are the heralds of holy truth.

We call the races and the peoples,
Made scarlet with their brothers’ blood,
To the kingdom of true, eternal freedom,
To the kingdom of goodness, light and love.

The hopes and prayers for the future turn to Ekaterinburg, to restoration and coronation.

Why Shanghai Theology Will Conquer the World

(First published in Orthodox Life, Spring 2015)


Recently a visitor from another Local Church asked if he could leave some booklets about degrees in academic theology in the church shop. I told him that it was not worth leaving them here, for, however interesting, none of our people studies academic theology, rather we try and live theology. At the Last Judgement, it will be no good answering the Just Judge that, ‘I have a Masters in Theology from X or I have a Doctorate in Patristics from Y’. We hope to hear these words: ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; Naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me’ (Matt. 25, 34-36).

Of course, academic theology has its place and its uses and its schools: Paris, Oxford, Heidelberg, Cambridge, Rome, Fordham etc. But the real theology of the Church is a lived theology, for it is founded on spiritual experience and not on booklore and the abstract thoughts of the cold brain, on the experience of the inner heart warmed by grace, expressed above all in deeds – though those can also be found expressed in words, especially in the Lives of Saints. Real theology does not have ‘schools’, but centres, which are in monasteries, hermitages, cathedrals and parishes such as: Carthage, Cappadocia, the Thebaid, Milan, Lerins, the Studion, Mt Athos, Rila, Suceava, Radonezh, Valaam, Optina, Pochaev (of which Jordanville is a skete or offshoot), Zhicha, Chelije….and one of the most recent – Shanghai.

True, when asked about the spiritual leadership of ROCOR, we may think of individuals like Metr Antony of Kiev, Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko), Archbishop Averky, Metropolitan Philaret, Ivan Andreyev and others. However, above all of them stands one who is recognized worldwide not only as an Orthodox thinker, writer and inspirer, but also as a universal saint: St John of Shanghai. His writings, sermons, articles and decrees show the three essential elements of his spiritual leadership, which are not so often found in academic theology. If secular leadership combines single-mindedness with ruthlessness, spiritual leadership, like that of St John, is based on the four attributes of the Church, something far greater than himself but in which he participates: Unity, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity.

Unity and Catholicity

As indicated by the very word ‘Shanghai’, St John’s life and theology – for the two things are the same among real theologians – shows Unity and Catholicity. In other words, St John’s influence was global, showing unity in diversity. He lived in many countries in Eastern Europe, China, the Philippines, Western Europe, North Africa, North America, his parents reposing in South America, and he had and has many spiritual children in Australia. So this Little Russian saint became a Great Global saint, a saint for all peoples. St John showed great openness, allowing a Western rite, when there was still such a thing before Vatican II, he preached, not provincially and parochially, not in a racially exclusive way which means spiritual death, but preached to all before the end. Unity and Catholicity mean that Shanghai theology is Global theology.

Holiness and Apostolicity

The Holiness of Shanghai theology is in its following of the Tradition in its integrity, without the compromises of either extreme, following the golden mean. For the Tradition means the presence of the Holy Spirit Who is the source of the Tradition. And whoever says the Tradition means the Apostles who first received the Holy Spirit, by Whom the Church was founded on the day of Pentecost. Those who stand in the Tradition follow the mainstream and do not find themselves in the dead ends of the fringes of the Church, in one extreme or another, in sects and cults. And those who follow the Tradition do not abandon the Faith, but look for the restoration of the Church and its influence over the State with the restoration of Tsardom. Holiness and Apostolicity mean that Shanghai theology is Eternal Theology.


One of the many disciples of ‘Shanghai theology’, the Californian Hieromonk Seraphim, wrote of this theology in his ‘God’s Revelation to the Human Heart’:

‘Why is the truth, it would seem, revealed to some and not to others? Is there a special organ for receiving revelation from God? Yes, although usually we close it and do not let it open up: God’s revelation is given to something called a loving heart’.

And here we come to the secret of Shanghai theology, the theology of the Church. It is immortal because it comes from the immortal heart, warmed by the love of God through the Holy Spirit. Thus, it deals with the matters of the Eternal Word of God. That is why academic theology, based on the mortal human brain, is forgotten after the fashion for it has passed, whereas real theology is eternal, for it expresses the Eternal One. At the end of this world, when all the libraries of the planet have burned down, what will remain? Shanghai theology.

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: 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:

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

A Recent Interview

1) Please could you introduce yourself and how you became an Orthodox priest?

I was born and grew up in a modest family in a small town in the north of Essex, my father was local, though my very anglicised mother was of Russian origin. They had met during the War. I passed my 11 +, went to the local grammar school and then studied Russian, the language my mother had lost, at University. Next I went to work in Greece for a year, after which in 1979 I decided to study at what was then the only Russian Orthodox seminary in Western Europe, called St Serge, in Paris. In 1981 I was made reader in the Russian Orthodox Church. Four years after this I was ordained subdeacon and deacon and, seven years later, priest. I lived and worked in France between 1983 and 1997. I am married and have six adult children.

2) What is the vision behind Orthodox England?

I first began writing in the 70s, but my work was not published until the early 90s. Orthodox England began as such only in 1997 as a journal and, from the new millennium on, it developed into a website. After ten years, in 2007, the journal went fully online. Our vision is to call back English people and others living here, to their spiritual roots in original Christianity. In other words, our vision is to restore something of what was, so that we can survive by keeping our spiritual integrity today.

3) Why do you see Orthodoxy as the true faith of the British Isles and England and not either Roman Catholicism or Protestantism

Rather than ‘true faith’ I would say original faith.

Protestantism, in its many forms is obviously an invention of the sixteenth century, developed as a moralising reaction to Catholic deformations. Roman Catholicism, however, was itself only an invention of the eleventh century. It was developed as a geopolitical project by the Western elite out of the original first millennium Christianity in Western Europe as an ideology to justify its attempt to conquer the world.

First millennium Christianity in Western Europe was very different from both Protestantism and Catholicism. Any historian can tell you that. The main difference was a different Creed, which meant a different set of values and way of life, so that the Christianity of the first millennium here was in communion with the Church in the homelands of Christianity, in Jerusalem, the Middle East, Asia Minor, the Roman Capital in Constantinople and so on. The native people in Jerusalem and all these places belonged, and still belong, to the Orthodox Church. Therefore, the Christianity of the first millennium West can also fairly be called Orthodox. Thus, today’s Catholicism and Protestantism are fragments and vestiges of this original Orthodoxy, which fell out of communion with it through introducing its new Creed.

4) Could you explain what the Orthodox understanding of Church-State relations is and how it mainly differs from the Papal or Protestant view?

The Papal view of Church-State relations is called ‘papocaesarism’, the idea that the Pope should control the world. The Protestant view is called ‘caesaropapism’, the idea that the ruler (or parliament) decides on the faith – examples are Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, or the fact that whoever the current Prime Minister is – and he may be an atheist – appoints all bishops of the Church of England.

The Orthodox view is based on the Incarnation; as God became man, so man is called to become God-like. Therefore Orthodoxy calls for balance between Church and State, known as ‘symphony’, the idea that the secular ruler is dominant in affairs of State, the Church in spiritual matters that concern the salvation of the soul. However, spiritual matters do not mean some sort of inward navel-gazing, disassociated from social action. In fact, spiritual matters inevitably profoundly affect political, social and economic matters, the two spheres overlap and interpenetrate one another, hopefully in a positive way. We believe that as God is incarnate in the world, so the Church is incarnate in the world and must be active in transfiguring it.

5) Could you explain as to what you feel is of central significance as to the Western Churches’ historic adoption of the filioque and how this has affected Western Christendom both theologically and culturally?

The filioque is the local alteration to the Christian Creed, rejecting the consensual Creed and Faith of the Universal Councils. This alteration officially took place in Rome in 1014, one thousand years ago next year. (Unofficially, it had begun as a slow process over two centuries before, but only in certain provincial areas and then not with the later significance and in Rome the popes had then categorically rejected any alteration to the Creed). In other words, the Christian Faith was changed in the West at the outset of the second millennium and led to its isolation from the roots of the Church and mainstream Christianity.

The filioque, a Latin phrase that means ‘and from the Son’, secularises our whole understanding of the Christian God, the Holy Trinity. In combination with the claims of the Pope of Rome, also developed and enforced soon after 1014, the filioque says that the source of the authority and spirituality of the Church, the presence of Christ in the world, is no longer spiritually freely available through the Church. In other words, authority and spirituality are no longer dependent on the Holy Spirit, they are held captive, dependent on a human being. With the filioque, authority and spirituality depend on whoever makes himself recognised as the representative or ‘vicar’ of Christ on earth. According to these innovations of the 11th century, in Western Europe this representative was deemed to be the Bishop of Rome. Thus, all authority and spirituality was put into his hands.

The much later Protestant reaction to this was to make everyone into a pope; this was the innovation that led to modern individualism and secular humanism, man-worship. None of this would have come about, if it had not been for the introduction of the filioque, which had already been defined by the late 11th century by Anselm of Canterbury as the single distinctive motto of the arrogant and imperialistic ideology of Western Europe, which opposed it to all other cultures. Already in the eleventh century this ideology lay directly behind both the colonisation of England, known as ‘the Norman Conquest’, and the later colonial movements of plunderers known as ‘The Crusades’.

6) What are your views on the “Pussy Riot” incident in Russia?

Let me put that incident into its historical context – otherwise it will be meaningless.

We know for a fact that the 1917 Revolution in Russia was organised and implemented by the Western Powers in order to destroy Russia, its rival, one which, in their own words, would have become more powerful than any Western country by 1950. Therefore, British and the Americans sent Trotsky and the Germans sent Lenin to carry out the Revolution in Russia. We also now know that the order to assassinate the Tsar and his family actually came directly from New York – just as the Tsar himself had predicted it would, some ten years before. The Soviet Union was a purely Western foundation, founded on the Western ideology of Marxism.

However, in creating the Soviet Union, the West made a strategic mistake, a rod for its own back, because of course the Soviet Union became very powerful, the second ‘Superpower’. This was not as the West had intended, for the Nazis were supposed to destroy the Soviet Union. The West had not counted on historic patriotism and sense of national identity, a movement far deeper than the superficial Soviet Union. Therefore, when the Soviet Union fell, over twenty years ago now, the West’s greatest fear was that a free and independent Russia would be born, that, having thrown off its shell, the tortoise underneath it would turn out to be a hare. Hence the ‘Wild East’ chaos which the West encouraged in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s with its ‘divide and rule’ policies and privatisation. This was nothing more than institutionalised theft from the people.

The problem for the West came in the year 2000 when Russia finally recognised that it had to recover from this ‘Wild East’ Capitalism, the Mafia State, and set out on the very, very long path of recovery under President Putin. Therefore, the West had to destroy Putin. In some respects, he is an easy target because he rules over a post-Soviet country, still full of that corruption and mafia mentality introduced there in the 1990s. Therefore, it is easy to attack Putin’s Russia (although it is doubtful if the amount of corruption there is any greater in reality than in the EU or the USA) and Putin has been lamentably slow and weak in tackling corruption.

Thus, what really upsets the Western elite is the fear that Russia may yet free itself from this corruption and the former Russian Empire largely reconstituted in a Eurasian Confederation. The only focus of Russian unity, the multinational Russian Orthodox Church, is also the only force which can overcome post-Soviet amorality. Both Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeleine Albright have made it clear that they are utterly opposed to the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church and want to dismember Russia – much as Hitler planned to do. So Western so-called ‘NGO’s and Evangelical ‘missionaries’ have done their best to undermine the authority of the Church, even publishing attacks on the Church in the ‘Economist’ and the ‘Harvard Business Review’!

It is in this context that we understand the obviously set up ‘Pussy Riot’ incident, based around a non-existent female punk band. It seems that the financial backer of this pathetic little plot was Boris Berezovsky, who sent these women money through his friend Alexander Goldfarb. His reason for doing this was the refusal by the Patriarch just a few weeks before to back Berezovsky’s political campaign to become President. His letter was well publicised by the media.

So it was all about petty revenge, using these foolish young women (one of whom clearly needs psychiatric help) as stooges. In other words, the whole thing was a very obvious and unsubtle political manipulation by Russophobes. And it failed, because people could see what it was, a put-up job. And now Berezovsky, a thief of the Wild East 1990s, a Robin Hood in reverse, who stole from the people and gave to the rich, who was associated with and perhaps funded the terrorists who massacred the children of Beslan and funded the murder of the spy Litvinenko, has apparently committed suicide. I fight against the thought of Judas coming to mind, but it does…..

7) What are your views on “Nationalism” and should this be better contrasted with instead “Patriotism” from an Orthodox perspective?

Nationalism is hatred of others out of ignorance and deluded pride, usually in what is worst in one’s own country, of the sort: ‘We are better than others’. ‘We are the best in the world’. We can see this in the xenophobia of racist movements, like the National Front, the British National Party and the so-called ‘English Defence League’. When I see their slogans and hateful ideology, I can find nothing in them with which I can identify; their strident nationalism, arrogance and ignorance are among the worst aspects of this country – not the best. Christianity can never approve of hatred.

On the other hand, patriotism is love of what is best in our country and culture. In a globalised world there is no place for nationalism, but there is place for both patriotism and what I call ‘inter-patriotism’, the love of what is best in all countries. In fact, if you do not love your own country, if you are not patriotic, how can you possibly love other countries and their cultures?

8) Do you look for a restoration of the Orthodox Tsar in the future and is Orthodoxy intrinsically monarchist ultimately in its political leanings?

The Orthodox Churches live and have lived in all countries and under all sorts of regimes: Pagan, Communist, post-Soviet, Fascist, Capitalist, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim etc. However, history shows that the Church is able to influence society for the best when there is an Orthodox monarch.

Here we must emphasise that the Orthodox use of the word ‘monarch’ means something quite different from the Western usage. In the West it means a right-wing figure, who is extremely powerful and rich and uses that power and wealth to exploit for egotistical purposes, a kind of permanent Tony Blair or any other self-deluded narcissistic megalomaniac. Conversely, in Orthodox language, a monarch means a popular monarch, whose power and wealth exist only for the people’s benefit. His sovereignty is the reflection of the people’s sovereignty. Christian monarchy is where the people are the guarantor of the monarchy and vice versa. That is quite different from the absolutist and despotic monarchies with which Western history is littered. In 1917 Russia fell because of thoroughly corrupt and self-serving aristocrats, oligarchs as we would call them today, who connived with foreign powers, overthrew the monarchy and betrayed the monarch-loving peasants and workers, whom they ruthlessly exploited.

Prophecies, which are always conditional, clearly state that, if the whole Russian nation repents, a suitable candidate will appear to be Tsar again, just as in 1613 after the Polish invasion. All Russian Orthodox, and all conscious Non-Russian Orthodox, look forward to this possible restoration, because it will change the whole future of the world for the better, rebalancing it and turning it away from its present, suicidal course.

9) Please could you explain the Orthodox concept of “Romanity”?

‘Romanity’ originally meant that part of the Roman Empire that had become Christian. When the Emperor Constantine realised that Rome was integrally pagan, he transferred the capital of Romanity (= the Christian Roman Empire or Christendom) to New Rome (much later called Constantinople). After the barbarian Catholic schismatics sacked the capital of this Roman Empire and Christendom in 1204, it became very weak and finally fell to Islam in 1453. From then the capital of Romanity was transferred to Moscow, the new ‘Centre’. Today Romanity simply means all Orthodox Christendom, Orthodox civilisation, the ‘Orthosphere’. However, it is true that there are considerable fragments of this in countries outside it, including in the Western world.

9) Is there an alternative Orthodox vision of a Christian England within a Confederate Europe that can be advocated instead of the current EU super state project?

We are for Europe, we are not anti-European (that would be self-destructive – the British Isles and Ireland are obviously geographically European), but we are anti-EU. The EU denotes a corrupt and tyrannical political, commercial and banking elite which serves only itself. We believe in a European Confederation of Sovereign Nations, not in a Babylonian Superstate, a Fourth Reich of the United States of Berlin, which is what is on offer today. (Anyone who has seen pictures of what is happening in Greece and Cyprus, where German bureaucrats are meddling in national banks and national ministries at this moment, can see this quite clearly).
We believe that a Free Confederation of Europe, balancing unity and diversity, would at one and the same time eliminate the old tribal nationalism of Europe, as seen in the two great European Wars (so-called ‘World Wars’) and also eliminate the Babylon internationalism of the EU Superstate, which is a mere US colonial superstructure. The United States of Europe is made in the image of its colonial master, the United States of America, a corrupt institution which came to power on the 600,000 dead bodies of Americans who died in the American Civil War.

Theologically, Confederation is a Trinitarian concept, in the image of the Holy Trinity, unity in diversity. This is quite different from the centralism of the EU, which is merely the modern equivalent of the old papal centralism of the Middle Ages. In other words, the only essential geographical difference between the Middle Ages and today is that Rome has moved to Brussels.

10) Do you see Islam as being a significant threat to the UK or Europe in the future?

No, not in itself. Islam is only a threat if Europe and the UK continue on their suicidal path of renouncing and annihilating their Christian roots. As it is said, ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. In other words, since Christianity as the foundation of Western culture is being renounced by Western society, why should Islam not take over? There is a free market in religion now. If the West wishes to inflict Islam on itself, that is not the fault of Islam, only of the West. That would be the West punishing itself in freely-chosen self-destruction. It is not easy to stop a suicide.

11) Please could you clarify what you see as being theologically suspect in the “Paris School”?

The ‘Paris School’ of philosophy (there was no theology or Orthodoxy in it) was a marginal movement affecting a few dozen intellectuals and their naive followers. It started in Paris in the 1920s. After the Russian Church had been taken captive in 1917, these uprooted fringe intellectuals, former Marxists, a former Hindu, a hypnotist, occultists, theosophists, freemasons, and others, often not of an Orthodox background, left the Russian Church. Without Church discipline or the living Tradition, they decided to attempt to merge Orthodox theology with Protestant-based secularism in a sectarian and cultish way, the apex of which they called ‘Sophianism’. This was a syncretistic pseudo-intellectual mish-mash, rejected by the vast majority, which is destined to die out completely in the coming years, now that the Russian Church is being restored.

12) What is your understanding of “Sophia” in Orthodox theology and mysticism? Also what do you think of the many Marian apparitions that have happened in the West particularly since Fatima which referred to the conversion of Russia etc as many of the “messages” behind these alleged visitations of the Theotokos appear to completely theologically contradict Orthodox doctrine and practice?

You speak in your question of ‘Sophia in Orthodox theology and mysticism’. I have to translate and demythologise such exotic and coded language. Firstly, ‘Orthodox’ for us whom the outside world calls ‘Orthodox’ means ‘Christian’; the word ‘mysticism’ has no meaning, for all authentic theology is ‘mystical’, inasmuch as it all comes from God i.e, it is not rationalistic; as regards Sophia, this is simply the Greek word for ‘Wisdom’, that is, the Person of Christ. So what your question means is simply my understanding of ‘Christ in Christian theology’.

In reply: In Christian Rome (much later called Constantinople), the main Cathedral was and is dedicated to ‘The Holy Wisdom’ (in Greek ‘Aghia Sofia’), that is to the Saviour. In other words, it is ‘Christchurch’. In the Gospels the Saviour is called the Wisdom (‘Sophia’) and Word of God. So in answer to your question, the Christian theology of the Wisdom and Word of God, is that He is the Son of God Who became Incarnate, was crucified and rose from the dead, and there is no Wisdom or Word outside Him. This means that the highest form of Wisdom and Literature reside in Christ the Saviour, Who Alone overcame death. All other forms of wisdom and literature are, however valuable, still deathly, mortal, not of the Resurrection.

There have been several ‘Marian’ apparitions since Fatima. Each one must be treated differently. Medjugorje, for example, is a fake – according to Roman Catholic authorities. It is possible that others have been fake too. However, I believe that both Fatima and Lourdes were real. Sadly, the messages involved were ruthlessly and deliberately deformed and manipulated by the Vatican machine.

For five years I was the rector of the Russian Orthodox parish in Lisbon and collected information about the Fatima revelation, which happened precisely in 1917 and concerned Russia. For me the message is quite simple: the Mother of God was warning the Western world that if it did not stop plotting against Russia and did not repent, stepping back from the brink, it would destroy itself. And of course this is exactly what has happened and is happening now. I remember how President Putin warned Blair, I think it was in 2006, against encouraging atheism. The advice was ignored. The West ignores the Russian experience of Soviet materialism, so well described by Solzhenitsyn, at its peril.

13) What do you think of the late but influential Fr Seraphim Rose’s teaching as regards the “Toll Houses”?

I never thought that the late Fr Seraphim Rose, an Orthodox monk in California, was influential. This is news to me.

Fr Seraphim spoke in one of his books of the imagery of ‘toll houses’, which is used to illustrate symbolically what happens to the soul after death. Sadly, some people have misinterpreted and deformed his words and tried, very crudely and primitively, to make his words material, despiritualised. It is as if the Last Judgement was being presented as a law court with bewigged barristers and a judge. This is such a grossly materialistic, Kafkaesque deformation that it is unworthy of attention. I would say the same of the deformation of the Orthodox understanding of the image of the toll houses. Fr Seraphim was not responsible for this. He was merely trying to explain to the uninitiated. Perhaps, his fault, if any, was only in trying to ‘cast pearl before swine’.

14) Do you see any future for the Anglican Church? In your book “Orthodoxy and the English Tradition” you quote the Catholic historian Christopher Dawson from his book “Religion and the Rise of Culture” when he says “The West is different from other civilisations because its religious idea has not been the worship of timeless and changeless perfection but a spirit that seeks to incorporate itself within history. Other civilisations realised their synthesis between life and religion and maintained their sacred order but in the West the changing of the world became an integral part of its cultural ideal.” Would you say this is the spirit behind Anglicanism as it seems completely beholden to and compromised with modernity?

The Anglican Church was an invention of the power-grabbing and land-grabbing tyrant and serial wife-killer Henry VIII and then of Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century. Henry is said to have massacred tens of thousands, using atrocious tortures; Elizabeth, not a lot better, wrote the doctrines of Anglicanism. Anglicanism was invented as a nationalist compromise, necessary only to the State, Protestant in doctrine, though with some Catholic externals, notably stealing all the Catholic churches of the country, though ruining them with whitewash and sledgehammers. The idea was to unite everyone, Protestant-minded and Catholic-minded, in a single State-sponsored institution.

From the beginning, there was dissidence, even though some of the extreme Protestants were exiled to colonies in North America and Catholics were slaughtered, fined and exiled. The Anglican Church continually followed the State and its fashions, as an integral part of the Establishment, without spiritual independence, following whatever decision the State decreed, creating its ‘vicar of Bray’ scenario.

Never has there been a clearer example of nationalism, erastian caesaropapism, a so-called Church created by a State for a State. It is the same today; the State says ‘gay marriage’ and, lo and behold, many Anglican bishops and clergy say the same. Whatever the State commands, it follows. Someone said some years ago that the only difference between the Church of England Establishment today and 100 years ago is that then it was for fox-hunting and against buggery, but today it is against fox-hunting and for buggery.

Of course, it can be said that the Orthodox Churches have also been manipulated by States, with individual bishops vetted and even appointed in Russia by Tsars and Soviet Commissars, in Greece by sultans and Greek ministers and in Constantinople by the US Secretary of State. However, although all that is scandalous, it was also resisted by the vast majority, hundreds of thousands of martyrs and confessors, and also the Faith itself was not attacked and not altered. These unworthy bishops were appointed from the scrapings of the barrel that remained after mass persecution. But the Anglican Faith was altered – dictated by the State from the very outset.

What is the point of Anglicanism today, when the State is not only secular but openly and unashamedly anti-Christian? In this country it is a tiny group in any case. I would be surprised if the Anglican Church will continue to exist in another generation. A secular ‘Church’ is a contradiction in terms and has no more reason to exist. Its huge wealth will be grabbed by the greedy and bankrupt State. As a tiny minority, cut off from the broader currents of Christianity, Anglicanism is now breaking down into its unOrthodox component parts: the mass will lapse altogether into secularism; the practising will go to Protestantism; a small minority will go to Catholicism. This process has already been happening for centuries, but it is about to speed up.

15) What are your views on the Israel-Palestine question that so preoccupies current evangelical eschatological discourse?

It is an ironic fact that it was the persecution of the Jews in and by Western European culture that led to the foundation of Israel. However, the invention of Israel, an American colonial project, its Middle East base, just as the UK is its North Atlantic base, was a catastrophic event. It meant that the native inhabitants of Palestine were forced out of their own homeland. Many of their descendants are still living in refugee camps today, 65 years later. The existence of Israel has guaranteed permanent terrorist war in the Middle East and murderous attacks on the USA like 9/11 and on all Western countries that support this project, not to mention the purely terrorist (‘shock and awe’) invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. As long as Israel exists in its present form, there will never be peace.

Prophecies say that the end of the world will take place in Jerusalem, near Armageddon. In other words, the foundation of Israel in 1948 is of apocalyptic significance; it guarantees that the end of the world moves nearer. If we wanted to postpone that end, the best way would be to deconstruct Israel in its present form, though obviously with safeguards for the ordinary Jewish people, who are dupes in the affair.

16) What are your current projects and where can one find out more about Orthodox England please?

Currently, we are laying the foundations to extend the Russian Orthodox mission from Colchester to other centres in the East of England. We have a list of target towns to set up. Our target groups are Orthodox already in this country, but not practising for lack of local churches, as well as the vast masses of English people who do not practise any religion and probably never have done. (The tiny minority who already practise a religion, for example in the Church of England, should, we believe, stay there; we have never in any way tried to recruit them). To find out more, see:

From Recent Correspondence and Conversations – March 2013

Q: What dangers should those new to the Church especially try to avoid?

A: There are many dangers, just as many as for those of us who are not new to the Church, but the dangers are different ones. Those new to the Church are neophytes and that psychology, common to neophytes of all nationalities and in all religions, is particular.

For instance, I remember about 30 years ago meeting a young Irish woman who had converted to Judaism on marrying a Jew. She had taken up her new religion with all the zeal that you used to associate with Irish Catholicism. She was completely over the top, did not use birth control, wore rather strange clothes, had to eat kosher food, was incredibly pro-Israeli, read a lot etc. Her husband, who was a real Jew, could not have cared a less about any of this and had probably never read a book about Judaism in his life. She was the one who imposed Shabbat on him. In other words, there was no theology there, just the obsessive psychology of insecurity – she felt she had to prove herself by being more Jewish than the Jews. I suspect it all had to do with competition with her mother-in-law, rather than her husband.

Q: What can this type of neophyte insecurity lead to?

A: To extremes – and I think, essentially, the neophyte, like all of us, should avoid extremes. I would take as an example the late French convert, Olivier Clement. In his youth, he tried to be more Russian than the Russians, busying himself with wearing ‘Russian’ clothes and other externals and reading a lot, which he thought would make him Orthodox. Realising that this was absurd, he then went to the other extreme and began writing against the Russian Church, adopting semi-Catholic views and even taking communion in the Catholic Church. These same convert extremes can be seen in other personalities who in their youth were over-zealous, then became over-lax. In this country, for instance, I can think of cases of going from being more Greek than the Greeks to being more Anglican than the Anglicans

Q: How can you fight against such temptations?

A: Keeping a sense of reality. For example, this tendency to a lack of balance is greatly reinforced among intellectuals who do not have their feet on the ground in parish life, so that they have no living examples before them. The Church is not about reading, but about experience of real life. This is why mixed parishes with mixed languages are so vital. Little convert middle-class hothouses, passing themselves off as ‘Orthodox’, or even ‘more Orthodox than the Orthodox’, often trying to impose their own strange or eccentric agendas on the Church and always collapse.

In such groups ‘foreigners’ and ‘foreign languages’ are usually despised or made to feel not at home. Such inward-looking communities are just as much ethnic, ‘phyletist’ ghettos as immigrant or exile groups in big cities – but with a difference. Those groups are at least authentic, but the neophyte groups are pretending or playing, starting ‘beard competitions’, so beloved of ex-Anglicans, for example. This is because they have no roots in Orthodox reality, often, sadly, fleeing that reality. You really either have to get on the Orthodox train or else get off the tracks. If you do not, you will be run over – and it will be your own fault.

Q: Are there other consequences of such insecurity?

A: Yes, judgementalism. Censorious convert conversations like ‘this bishop does that’, or ‘that priest smokes’, or ‘there is a scandal there, so I cannot belong to that Local Church’ always display the same negativity. For example, I know a priest of the Antiochian jurisdiction who gives communion to anyone, Orthodox or not. Does that mean that I am not in communion with his Patriarch or all the many serious bishops and priests of his Church? Of course, I am.

Such conversations are very depressing, because they do not focus on reality, but only on the negative. Did the Apostles focus on Judas? No. So we too should focus on the 100 parishes where life is normal or even thriving and forget the one where there is some sort of scandal. This is not even a case of seeing a half-full glass as half-empty, this is a case of seeing a 99% full glass as 99% empty. The demon plays with our sense of reality and, sowing illusions in our minds, creates depressions, schisms and lapses. We do not lapse because of some scandal; a scandal should bring us zeal. ‘There but for the grace of God go I’, is what we should be saying. That is what the Apostles did after Judas. They had no illusions, but they also rejoiced in the Faith.

Q: What can we do to counter such thoughts?

A: Depression comes from pride. Be humble. Life is beautiful – God made it, not death. We should not expect others to be saints, when we ourselves are not saints. We should condemn only ourselves, others we should always find excuses for. We are responsible only for saving our own soul. Stop interfering, looking at your neighbour. Until we have learned this, we are not Christians, we are only sources of pride, for whom nothing is ever good enough. This is where neophyte idealism is dangerous. As they say: ‘If the grass is greener on the other side, start watering your own side’. We must stay with the mainstream and flee the fringes and margins around the Church. Of course, if we ourselves are asked to compromise, that is a different matter. But that is rare.

Q: How do we avoid compromising ourselves in such cases?

A: I remember a priest at a Diocesan Pastoral Conference in Frankfurt some years ago, asking what would happen when ROCOR and the Patriarchate of Moscow were in communion again, because he knew a particular Patriarchal priest who did totally uncanonical things and the priest who asked the question did not want to concelebrate with him. Archbishop Mark answered very simply and I think with great surprise at the strange question: ‘Then do not invite him to your parish. Then you will not have to concelebrate with him’. It is the same with those who use the Catholic calendar. We have no obligation to go to their parishes and concelebrate with them. But they are welcome to concelebrate with us and we invite them to. In that way they return to the calendar that the Church uses, for a day at least.

An example is from the contemporary OCA, where some ordinary Orthodox are at last revolting against certain converts who have tried to impose Evangelical-style right-wing censoriousness on them. Rooted Orthodox do not want hothouse politics and pseudo-Orthodoxy, they want real-world tolerance. But they do not want lax practice either, which is the other side of the extremist coin. They have suffered from this for over forty years and that has led to the present crisis in the OCA, which means that it has been isolated from World Orthodoxy and few concelebrate with it, as we saw at the recent enthronement of Patriarch John of Antioch.

With all its financial and moral scandals the OCA is suffering from the sort of problems that the Roman Catholics are suffering from – and for the same reason – loss of faith. But that does not mean that everyone there is involved. That is why we must pray for it especially now. It is always a noisy minority that compromises the outward life of the Church. But the angels are still here, in spite of us. Never forget that. We serve God, not man. The Church is God’s, not ours. As for us, today we are here, tomorrow we are gone, but the gates of hell will not prevail. The Church does not need us, we need the Church.

Q: Where can Russian Orthodox in the West go for training at seminary? Would you recommend the new seminary in Paris?

A: Definitely not Paris. It has failed to meet our hopes on all counts and is notoriously ecumenist, as everyone knows and as we have told the authorities in Moscow face to face. It is amazing to us that in Moscow they still naively think in pre-Revolutionary categories, that the Catholic Church is utterly serious and is not subject to the Protestant-style freemasonry, homosexuality and pedophilia that entered it massively after the Americanisation of the Second Vatican Council.

In Russia they never went through the 1960s, so in that sense they still largely retain the freshness and also naivety of the 1950s. However, by compromising themselves by fraternising with Catholics, as they do in Paris, they are also compromising themselves with pedophiles. They do not consider this. It is a great shame that in Moscow they still do not listen to us in ROCOR about such matters. We are the Church Outside Russia, we were born here, we live here, we are aware, we talk to Catholics every day as neighbours and we know what goes on there. There are plenty of ordinary, decent Catholics who look to the Orthodox Church to free them from such tyranny and deformations. But be patient, give them time in Moscow and they will learn.

To answer your question about seminary training today: Seek a blessing to go either to Jordanville or else, in certain cases, to the seminary at Sretensky Monastery in Moscow. One day Paris will be cured. It has only just started.

Q: What is our view today of Metropolitan/Patriarch Sergius (Stragorodsky)? In 1930 over 30 bishops rejected administrative submission to Metropolitan Sergius, disputing his compromise with the atheist authorities. Metropolitan Sergius found himself in isolation, face to face with an atheist orgy, that took on a larger and larger scale. Do we still agree with what Fr Seraphim Rose wrote in his book ‘The Catacomb Saints’?

A: I think our view of Metr Sergius today is very much what it always has been. We do not agree with him, but also we do not condemn him – we never went through what he had to go through and were never faced with the choice between martyrdom and compromise. Having said that, it is true, for example, that Fr Seraphim Rose’s book, ‘The Catacomb Saints’, reflects some of the unnecessarily negative polemics of the Cold War 1970s, but that book is still fundamentally right, despite the sharp language used in it sometimes and its strange title.

In Russia today there is still a hangover from the Soviet period and deSovietisation has not run its course completely. It will take another generation for deSovietisation to be completed. For this reason there are still those there who praise Metr Sergius. However, we should not feel superior, in the West we also underwent the censorious and condemnatory, judgemental pharisee attitudes of ‘ColdWarisation’. But I think most have been able to rid themselves of that alien influence quicker than they have in Russia. Those who did not rid themselves of such attitudes have left us.

Q: What do we make of Metr Sergius’ role in rallying Russians during WWII?

A: As for rallying Russians in World War II, it could easily be argued that the Church survived DESPITE Metr Sergius. Stalin realised he could not win the war without the Church. The Nazi attack on the Russian Lands, on the feast day of All the Saints of the Russian Lands, 22 June 1941, was, paradoxically, what freed the Church, not the compromises of Metr Sergius. And from then on, until Stalin’s death and after that, the Church was not decimated as before 1941. True, Stalin and Khrushchev after him did of course close many, many churches which Stalin had allowed to reopen and still sent many to camps and prisons, but there were no longer the mass shootings etc.

We, who never had to go through Sovietisation, should concentrate on the New Martyrs themselves, on the canonised, for example, on the holy Metr Kyrill of Kazan, and not on such divisive and controversial figures as Metr Sergius. I know that in Russia they are already heading the same way and Metr Sergius is being forgotten by the faithful as, if anything, an embarrassing compromiser. Leave him to the dusty tomes of historians. Let us keep our eyes on the saints, not on the non-saints.

Q: Why does the Church of Constantinople use lots of clerical titles? I know of several bishops and even a metropolitan who are only glorified hieromonks. And the titles of protopresbyter and archimandrite are becoming meaningless as they have become so common there.

A; I think it is quite unfair to say that it is only the Patriarchate of Constantinople that gives out such titles so freely. True, the title protopresbyter seems now to be given there to any priest who has a doctorate and archimandrite is rather used as ‘hieromonk’ is used in the Russian Church. On the other hand, in the Russian Church ‘Metropolitan’ is sometimes used in a titular way as ‘Cardinal’ in the Catholic Church and there is a system of awards in the Russian Church that is often abused. So I cannot see that this is any better than in the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Some people are a little vain and like titles and can be bought with them. Sadly, people have their price and in a world where many priests are not paid in money, they can get paid in titles.

Q: As Orthodox what should we think of Eurasianism?

A: There is something called the International Eurasian Movement, which is Russian-based and developed after the fall of Communism in 1991, though on the basis of a pre-Revolutionary movement. On the surface, Eurasianism has links with Orthodoxy, whose emblem is the double-headed eagle, looking east and west. The Church of God, Orthodox Christianity, has the task and mission of uniting the world, east and west, Europe and Asia, in unity in diversity. (This is quite unlike the Vatican sense of unity – inherited also by the Protestants – which allows little diversity and imposes a totalitarian unitary model on all. This we can see in the EU model, which is a secular form of the Vatican model, and in the US model, which is a secular form of the Protestant model. Such people look at the diversity of Orthodoxy and call it disunity! This is only because they are used to such monolithic, totalitarian heterodox styles).

Generally speaking, Eurasianism sees the modern West (not the historic Old West) as having taken a destructive path, especially since the Reformation and especially since the so-called ‘Enlightenment’. Western culture today has been spiritually emptied, it has lost its soul, abandoning its roots in the Christian Orthodox first millennium, decadently reverting to barbarianism. In other words, behind incredible Western economic and technological sophistication, there is spiritual barbarianism, as can be seen in the Western promotion of sodomy and other politically correct but spiritually pernicious views.

Eurasianism sees the future in Russia, not in the West, which in its decadence ever more resembles the Western Roman Empire just before it fell over fifteen centuries ago. Insofar as this is self-evident, we as Orthodox agree with Eurasianism. However, the problem is that Eurasianism is essentially politics, another ism or ideology, not the Church.

Q: Who founded this Eurasian movement?

A: The founder of modern Eurasianism is the Russian Orthodox philosopher Alexander Dugin, who was born in 1962. Typical of the post-Communist generation, at first, in the 1990s, he tried to reconcile Bolshevism or Stalinism with Orthodoxy. In so doing he also got caught up with post-Soviet right-wing nationalist movements like ‘Pamyat’. His Eurasianism developed out of this spiritual impurity. He has since moved on somewhat and begun to free himself, expressing more traditional Orthodox views, though still remaining a nationalist. However, what is written about him on Wikipedia is probably the work of a CIA hack. There is little truth in that.

I met Alexander Dugin at a Conference in London about eight years ago and had a clear impression of him. He is intellectually clever, but still suffers from spiritual confusion. This is why he mixes Orthodoxy with politics of all sorts, though particularly with right-wing views. His closest disciple is a young intellectual called Natella Speranskaya, who heads the Eurasian Youth Movement, but she also suffers in the same way as Dugin. Dugin is linked with the Greek Orthodox intellectual Dimitrios Kitsikis, an elderly geopolitician of the previous generation. Although also a friend of the Orthodox Tradition – Kitsikis wants the Greek Church to return to the Orthodox calendar – he too suffers from spiritual and nationalist confusion and has been closely linked with Maoism!

What is interesting with both these Orthodox thinkers is that they have both been inspired by the father of geopolitics, the Non-Orthodox English geographer Sir Halford John Mackinder. Mackinder called Eurasia (basically Russia and the Orthosphere, or the Orthodox civilisational world), what we call ‘the Centre’, ‘The Heartland’. This is what Kitsikis calls the Intermediate Region and, I suppose, if we use Tolkien’s terminology, we could also call it ‘Middle Earth’.

In other words, there is no doubt that all three geopoliticians, Englishman, Greek and Russian, completely agree that he who controls Russia / Eurasia controls the world. This is why the territory of the Russian Empire, or Soviet Union, or Russian Federation, whatever the name, has been so much attacked down the centuries – because of its geostrategic significance.

Q: What is happening in Syria?

A: I am only an observer. It is difficult for me to say anything. However, I cannot help observing certain public tendencies in US policies since Mr Obama was re-elected last year. Until then his policies seem to have been Republican and Bushite.

First of all, the US right-wing hawk General Petraeus who wanted to invade Syria and perhaps bomb Iran was sacked, having been compromised, and perhaps framed, in an affair. There followed a root and branch change in US foreign personnel. Most notably the hawkish Russophobe Hillary Clinton was replaced as Secretary of State by John Kerry, formerly a personal friend of President Assad of Syria. Clinton had been blamed for the death of the US ambassador in Benghazi in Libya, killed by Islamic terrorists, armed to the teeth with weapons allowed to them by the US. I think that the US administration realised that it had been arming its enemies. This was seen in Mali too, which Islamists had been conquering with weapons stolen as a result of NATO bombing in Libya. I remember the old saying: ‘Do not spit in the sky, it will fall back on your face’.

Then there was the appointment of the new US Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and hero, who called the bankrupting invasion of Iraq one of the greatest blunders in US history. It had completely destabilised the whole region, creating a whole chain of liabilities for the US. This involved Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey (where anti-US attacks have taken place), the Kurds, the Jordan, the Lebanon and the money-pit of Israel – the US had lit a fuse on a powder keg and is now trying to extinguish it before it is too late.

Thus, the realisation that many of the foreign mercenaries fighting President Assad’s government in Syria are terrorists seems at last to have come to the US. From what I understand, I have the impression, and it is only an impression, that the US may have realised that the real danger from its point of view is China and that perhaps it had better leave the Middle East to Russia. It cannot fight both at the same time. Even tiny but incredibly wealthy Saudi Arabian and Qatari dictatorships, which financed and armed the tens of thousands of Sunni Islamist mercenaries in Syria, are worried now. The genie was let out of the bottle. It has to be put back. I think only Russia, which has over one million Russian speakers in Israel and influence in Syria, can do this. Someone has to clean up the mess the West has made.

Q: What are we to think of Columbus?

A: I think he was an Italian sailor who got lost at sea, thought he had found India, but in fact had found some Caribbean islands. So he landed in someone else’s country and decided to steal it by massacring and enslaving the inhabitants.