UNTIL RECENTLY (written in 1975), the concepts and terms “Christian” and
“Orthodox” were unambiguous and meaningful.
Now, however, we are living through times so terrible, so filled with
falsehood and deception, that such concepts and terms no longer convey
what is significant when used without further clarification. They do not
reflect the essence of things, but have become little more than deceptive
Many societies and organizations now call themselves “Christian”
although there is nothing Christian in them, insofar as they reject
the principal dogma of Christianity—the Divinity of our Lord Jesus
Christ, as do several of the newest sects, to which the very spirit of true
Christianity, which follows so naturally and logically from the teaching of
the Gospels is generally quite foreign.
Of late, the term “Orthodox” also has ceased in large measure to
express what it should, for even those who in fact have apostatized from
true Orthodoxy and become traitors to the Orthodox Faith and Church
continue to call themselves “Orthodox.”
Such are all the innovators, who reject the true spirit of Orthodoxy,
all those who have started down the path of mutual relations with the
enemies of Orthodoxy, who propagandize for common prayer and
even liturgical communion with those who do not belong to the Holy
Such are the “renovationists”¹ and contemporary “neo-renovationists,”
the “neo-Orthodox” (as some of them openly style themselves!), who are
clamoring about how essential it is to
“renew the Orthodox Church,” about
some sort of “reforms in Orthodoxy,”
which allegedly has become “set in
its ways” and “moribund.”
They harp on such things instead
of focusing their prayerful attention
on the truly essential renewal of
their own souls and the fundamental
reform of their own sinful nature
with its passions and desires.
They insistently proclaim union
with heretics, with non-Orthodox,
and even with non-Christians. They
proclaim “the union of all,” but without the unity of spirit and truth
which alone makes such union possible.
Such, for example, in our days are the Œcumenical Patriarchs of
Constantinople, who in the past recognized the “Living Church” in
Soviet Russia as legal and now recognize the Pope of Rome as the “head
of the whole Christian Church,” and even admit the Papist Latins to
Holy Communion without their first being united to the Holy Orthodox
Such are all those who actively participate in the so-called ecumenical movement, which is striving so blatantly to create some sort of new
pseudo-church out of all the denominations now existing.
Such, too, are those many others who are not completely faithful to
our Lord and Savior and His Holy Church, but serve His vicious enemies
or please them in one way or another by helping them to realize their antiChristian goals in a world which has turned away from God.
Who will dare to deny us our lawful right not to recognize such
people as Orthodox, even though they may persist in using that name
and in bearing various high ranks and titles?
From Church history, we know that there have been not a few heretics
and even heresiarchs of high rank who were solemnly condemned by the
Universal Church and removed from their offices.
But what do we see today?
This, sadly, is an age of unlimited concessions and sly collaboration,
when even the most scandalous heretical actions or statements disturb
Very few react to this manifest apostasy from Orthodoxy as they
should, and as for condemning these new heretics and apostates—there
is no point in even thinking about it.
Today everything is permitted for everyone and nothing is prohibited
for anyone, except in cases where someone is personally hurt, offended,
and insulted when their own folly [that of the ecumenists—Trans.] is
Oh, in such cases, this is unforgivable! Then threats make their
appearance, based on those forgotten Canons, which otherwise are “obsolete, outdated and unacceptable” in our advanced, progressive age!
This is the kind of moral disintegration, of real spiritual monstrosity,
that faces us.
The truth is readily ignored and brazenly flouted, while evil, just as
readily, celebrates its triumphant victory and gloatingly mocks the truth
which it has overthrown and trampled upon.
Is it possible to reconcile one’s conscience to this contemporary situation? Can one close one’s eyes to all these lies and falsehoods and calmly
act as if one saw nothing wrong?
Only individuals whose consciences are burned out or completely lost
can do so!
That is why it is more than strange to hear some, imagining themselves to be Orthodox, call the Russian Church Outside of Russia “Old
Believer,” “schismatic,” “retrograde,” “obscurantist,” and so on, simply
because we will not walk in step with these times and dare not to apostatize in anything from Christ’s Gospel and the original teaching of the
Holy Church, and therefore consider it an obligation of conscience to
condemn this clear and obvious evil of contemporary life, which has
already penetrated into the Church.
In fact, it is not we who are schismatic, but all those who follow the
spirit of these times and by that act cut themselves off from the One,
Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, apostatizing from the Apostolic
Faith, from the Faith of the Fathers, from the Orthodox Faith, which
established the whole world.
These people are obviously hurtling over the precipice of apostasy—
into the abyss of perdition, together with the whole contemporary world,
burying themselves in their apostasy from the life-creating God.
Do you hear the Apostle’s Divinely inspired words, you modernists,
who attempt to distort Christ’s Gospel and are becoming so readily and
zealously “conformed to this world,” evil and alluring as it is?
We readily accept your indictment that we are “old believers,” considering it an honor to our traditionalism; but how does your Christian
conscience get on with your innovating, which overthrows essentially the
ancient, true Faith and Christ’s unchanging Church?
Was it not the Apostle who warned all Christians: “Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your
mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect
will of God”?²
We are “old believers,” but not schismatics, for we have never cut
ourselves off from the true Church of Christ.
We are in union with our Head, Christ the Savior, with His Holy
Disciples and Apostles, with the Apostolic Fathers, with the great Fathers
and Teachers of the Church, and with the great luminaries and pillars of
the faith and piety of our Fatherland, Holy Russia.
But you are in union with some sort of innovating, self-appointed
teachers, whom you advertise everywhere so unlawfully and obstinately,
disparaging and at times even daring to criticize the genuine luminaries
of our Holy Church, who have pleased God and been glorified in many
ascetic struggles of piety and miracles throughout the course of her two
This being the case, which of us is really the schismatic?
Of course, it is not those in the spirit of traditional Orthodoxy, but
those who have apostatized from the true Faith of Christ and rejected the
genuine spirit of Christian piety, even though all the contemporary patriarchs, who have altered our age-old, Patristic Orthodoxy, may be on the
latter’s side, as well as the majority of contemporary, so-called Christians.
Indeed, Christ the Savior did not promise eternal salvation to the
majority, but, quite to the contrary, He promised it to His “little flock,”
which will remain faithful to Him to the end, in the day of His Glorious
and Terrible Second Coming, when He will come “to judge the living
and the dead.”
“Fear not, little flock,” He said, painting the frightening picture of
the last times of apostasy from God and persecution of the Faith before
our mind’s eye, “For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the
This is why all we have said above prompts us to re-examine the terminology that has been accepted up to the present.
It is insufficient in our time to say only “Christian”—now it is necessary to qualify this by saying “true Christian.” Similarly, it is insufficient
to say “Orthodox”—it is essential to emphasize that one is not referring
to an innovating modernist “Orthodox,” but to a true Orthodox.
All genuine zealots of the true Faith, serving Christ the Savior alone,
have already begun to do this, both those in our Fatherland, enslaved by
ferocious enemies of God, where zealots depart into the catacombs like
the ancient Christians, as well as in Greece, our brother nation, where
the “Old Calendarists” not only refuse to accept the New Calendar, but
also, reject all innovations of any kind. They have a special veneration for
that champion of Holy Orthodoxy, St. Mark, Metropolitan of Ephesus,
thanks to whose steadfastness the impious Union of Florence with Papal
Rome in 439 failed.
It is noteworthy that both the Catacomb Church in the former
U.S.S.R., the so-called “Tikhonites,” and the Greek Old Calendarists,
between whom there can hardly be any communication, have begun to
call themselves “True Orthodox Christians.”
In our firm stand for the true Faith and Church it is essential only to
avoid everything personal—pride and self-exaltation—, which inevitably
lead to new errors, and eventually even to a fall; we have already witnessed
this in several cases.
It is not ourselves that we should praise, but the pure and immaculate
Faith of Christ. No fanaticism is admissible here, because it is capable
of blinding the spiritual eyes of such who are “zealous not according to
knowledge.” Rather than confirming one in the Faith, this blind fanaticism can sometimes lead one away from it.
It is important to know and to remember that a true Orthodox
Christian is not someone who just accepts the dogmas of Orthodoxy
formally, but a person who, as the great Russian hierarch St. Tikhon of
Zadonsk taught so beautifully, thinks in an Orthodox way, feels in an
Orthodox way, and lives in an Orthodox way, incarnating the spirit of
Orthodoxy in his life.
This spirit—ascetic and world-renouncing, as is clearly set forth in
the Word of God and the teachings of the Holy Fathers—is most sharply
and boldly denied by the modernists, the “neo-Orthodox,” who want in
everything to keep in step with the spirit of this world lying in evil, whose
prince, in the words of the Lord Himself, is none other than the Devil.⁴
Thus, it is not God Whom they desire to please, but the “prince
of this world,” the Devil; and thereby they cease to be true Orthodox
Christians, even if they call themselves such.
If we consider all this more seriously and deeply, then we will see that
this is precisely the case and that modernism, with its innovations, is leading us away from Christ and His True Church.
Let us be horrified at how rapidly apostasy has proceeded, although
the modernists do not see it or feel it, inasmuch as they themselves are
taking an active part in it.
And so let us not fear to remain in the minority, far from all their high-sounding titles and ranks. Let us always remember that even Caiaphas
was a high priest of the true God, and to what depths he sank—to the
horrible sin of deicide!
While living in this world which has apostatized from God, let us
strive not for specious human glory and cheap popularity, which will not
save us, but only to be within Christ’s “little flock.”
Let us be True Orthodox Christians, not modernists!
The English translation of the Russian original was published in
Orthodox Life, Vol. XXV, No. 3 (May-June 975), pp. 4-8.