Nationalism is simply an attachment to the things of this world, in other words, to nation states and all the other institutions invented by men. Nationalism is sinful worldliness, as it likes some and dislikes and sometimes even hates others, for no reason other than the national identity of those in question. All this come from its pride in imagined racist superiority. In this, nationalism differs from patriotism, which is love for God’s creation, wherever it may be. This is why nationalism always compromises the Faith, because it exalts tribal pride and justifies power-grabs, whereas in reality there is good and bad everywhere.
Nationalism in the First Millennium after Christ: 33 AD to 1033 AD
Schisms and heresies are always based on pride, either on the myth of personal superiority (isms named after a person– Arianism, Lutheranism, Calvinism) or else on the myth of collective (racial) superiority (isms named after an ideology – Miaphysitism, Papism, Catholicism). This pride always invents some heretical ideology in order to justify its schism from the Church, even calling its heresy a ‘Church’.
Thus, at the time of Christ most educated Jews, scribes, pharisees and men of law, rejected the Saviour because their Faith was not in the universal Messiah. It was in an imaginary Jewish racial Messiah who would justify their tribal pride and imagined superiority and national exclusiveness. The Jews, they said, were ‘the chosen people’ and could not share with others inferior to them. So through racial pride, they rejected the Risen Christ and His Church and indeed for centuries afterwards persecuted the Church, preferring to co-operate with the pagan Roman and other Establishments rather than humbly accepting Christ.
In the fifth century Armenians, Copts and some Syrians broke away from the Church, for they wanted independence from the Greeks, regardless of Truth. They justified their nationalist breakaway with the heretical Miaphysite ideology. Small groups of other races fell in the same way to the Nestorian ideology.
Nationalism in the Second Millennium after Christ: 1033 AD to 2018AD
By the early eleventh century a new ideology had over the past two and a half centuries been worked out in parts of Western Europe, where semi-Latinized Germanic peoples claimed racial superiority because they had conquered pagan Rome. Thus, Roman Catholicism, though not at first called that, was finally born. The barbaric hordes responsible soon showed their imagined superiority by invading the source of the real Christian Faith in Jerusalem in a bloodbath in order to impose their new ideology. Their justification? This was in their new ideology with its claim that the Holy Spirit proceeds from a unique substitute for Christ, the Bishop of Rome, who just happened to be one of them. This ideology was expressed in inherent organized violence.
In the sixteenth century most of the Germanic peoples split away in protest from this Roman Catholicism, which had become far too Latinized for their taste, and founded a new racial religion, founded by the German monk Luther. One variation of this was Anglicanism, a State-founded nationalist religion which enabled the local king to remarry, kill or divorce his old wives with impunity and plunder monasteries, slaughtering tens of thousands who stood in his way.
In the twenty-first century, after a process of evolution stretching back a century, Phanariotism was born in Istanbul. This maintained that those of Greek blood are superior to other races and that the Church depends on them. Thus, EP-ism, Eastern Papism, was born, which claims that the whole world belongs to the jurisdiction of the Greek race. So global Greek nationalism, an anti-Church ideology (‘theology’) justifying their power-grab, was systematized, and the Phanariots in their turn fell away from the Church in just another in the long line of nationalist schisms.
Nationalism in the Contemporary Russian Church: 2018AD
Nationalism also exists in the contemporary Russian Church. It has two characteristics:
The first trait of this world-loving nationalist spirit is its closeness to the State. Thus, it admires the late Patriarch Sergiy. As a result it is, like the late Russian cardinal, the Sergianist Metropolitan Nikodim, close to the Vatican Church-State. And as it is philo-Catholic, it is, ironically, therefore also philo-Phanar, because that is also philo-Catholic. Infected with admiration for the State, this ideology has little time for the zeal of missionary work among other races.
The second trait of this world-loving nationalist spirit is brain-fed, rationalist intellectualism and philosophy. It despises the popular piety of the New Martyrs, of St Seraphim of Sarov and St Matrona of Moscow, of holy elders and of the common people. Power-loving rather than piety-loving, it seeks the powerbroking of ecumenism and, always conforming to intellectual fashion, it prefers the intellectual snobbery of liturgical modernism to liturgical piety.
With the fall of the burdensome anachronism of the Second Rome, a process that has taken several centuries in all, the duty now falls to the Russian Orthodox Church, providentially recently resurrected and now 75% of the whole, to take responsibility for all. Will it vanquish the demons of nationalism that brought both the First Rome and then, a thousand years later, the Second Rome, low? We do not know, but until those traitors to the Faith have been defeated, the Third Rome will not be ready to take up the mantle of the Church which has now been offered it and assume responsibility for urgent worldwide missionary work. Will the Third Rome and its political temptations be outbalanced by the spiritual truths of the New Jerusalem of Holy Rus? We can only hope and pray.