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.
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?