Confession of Faith and Ecclesiology of The Russian True Orthodox Church 2008 (English)
DEFINITION OF THE SACRED COUNCIL
ON THE CONFESSIONAL AND ECCLESIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS
OF THE RUSSIAN TRUE ORTHODOX CHURCH
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The Russian True Orthodox Church confesses and holds the Orthodox Christian Faith as it has been preserved by Holy Tradition from the foundation of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church of Christ, and as it was until 1927 in the Local Russian Church, as the Catacomb Church kept it in a confessing spirit, and as the Russian Church Abroad kept it right until the year 2000.
We believe in the Triune God, the Holy Trinity, as expounded in the Nicaea-Constantinopolitan Symbol of faith, and in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which our Lord Jesus Christ founded, and which is the pillar and ground of the Truth (I Timothy 3.15). We believe that the Church is the Body of Christ, a Divino-human organism, in which we, the faithful, constitute Its Body, while the Head of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1.18). We believe that the gates of hell cannot prevail over Her (Matthew 16.18). Like the Lord Himself, She cannot be destroyed, annihilated or divided, and for that reason does not need to be “saved” by human forces.
In full unanimity with the Symbol of faith, we confess one baptism for the remission of sins. The Russian True Orthodox Church strictly holds to the ecclesiastical laws which prescribed that it be carried out by three-times and complete immersion in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
That which the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers of the Church accepted and confirmed, we also accept and confirm, and that which they rejected and anathematized, we also reject and anathematize, without adding or subtracting anything. And together with the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, we proclaim: “We follow the ancient traditions of the Ecumenical Church, we keep the laws of the Fathers; we subject to anathema those who add or take away anything from the Ecumenical Church.”
The Russian True Orthodox Church is an indivisible part of the Local Russian Church, and governs itself on conciliar bases in accordance with the decree of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy Synod and Higher Church Council of the Russian Church of November 7/20, 1920, № 362. We have canonical succession from the Catacomb Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad as two equal-in-honor and spiritually united parts of the True Russian Church remaining in Eucharistic and canonical communion under different ecclesiastical administrations, as it was in the time of the Holy Martyr Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa, and as was blessed by the last lawful First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Vitaly. We confess our spiritual and ecclesiological unity with the Holy New Martyrs of Russia and the Father-Confessors of the Catacomb Church, and also with the First Hierarchs of ROCOR and Her outstanding hierarchs and pastors.
Confessing that the Church saves man, and not man – the Church, we reject the sergianism confessed by the Moscow Patriarchate, which is so-called from the name of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), as a special form of apostasy and ecclesiological heresy. This false teaching is not compatible with the teaching of the Holy Fathers on the Church and on political authority, for sergianism is the inner preparedness of the Orthodox Christian for compromise with antitheism, and in a broader sense, for compromise with lies, with any evil, with the elements of this world. This preparedness proceeds from the heart, from the spiritual condition of man himself, and for that reason we affirm that the Moscow Patriarchate is being cunning when it calls sergianism a temporary phenomenon conditioned by a political situation. In raising sergianism – that is, compromise with antitheism – into a norm of ecclesiastical life, the Moscow Patriarchate is thereby preparing its flock to recognize the power of the Antichrist as a lawful power, and to accept “the seal on their right hand” (Revelation 13.16). We affirm that true Orthodoxy in our suffering Fatherland cannot be regenerated without a consciousness of the sergianist fall and without repentance for this fall.
We are unanimous with the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia and the Catacomb Father-Confessors, and also with the outstanding holy hierarchs and pastors of the Church Abroad, that sergianism is a heresy, which the Moscow Patriarchate that was born from it is “a neo-renovationist schism” which entered into symphony with the antitheist authorities and to which are applicable the definitions and canonical bans of the Russian Church that were laid on renovationism and its hierarchy. Having been formed as a schism, the Moscow Patriarchate unlawfully calls itself “the Mother Church”.
Our faith in the oneness and uniqueness of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is incompatible with ecumenism, and for that reason, we recognize ecumenism to be a heresy that has trampled on the Orthodox Faith. Confessing our unity with the heritage of ROCOR, we confirm the condemnation of ecumenism made by the Council of the Church Abroad in 1983 and the proclamation of a conciliar anathema on this heresy “and on those who have communion with these heretics or help them, or defend their new heresy of ecumenism”. The participation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the ecumenical movement is not a private apostasy of individual hierarchs, but was conciliarly confirmed as the Church’s course in 1961 at the Hierarchical Council of the MP. Having joined the “World Council of Churches”, the Moscow Patriarchate has defined itself not only as “a neo-renovationist schism”, but also as a heretical community that has fallen both under the anathema of the Holy Patriarch Tikhon and the All-Russian Council on the communists and all their co-workers, and under the anathema of the ROCOR Council.
Also falling under the anathema on the 1983 heresy of ecumenism are all the hierarchs and clergy of the official Local Churches that confess their Eucharistic unity but at the same time participate together in the pan-heresy of ecumenism, in the acceptance of the new calendar, in modernism, and in the construction of the new world order. For that reason the Russian True Orthodox Church can have Eucharistic communion and unity with none of them; and, following the patristic teaching, it decrees that official World Orthodoxy has fallen away from the Church of Christ and that its sacraments are ineffective [nedejstvenny] for salvation. By this, we confess the witness of Church Tradition that the grace of the Holy Spirit works in a saving manner only in the True Church of Christ, to which heretics and schismatics do not belong.
We reject the destructive opinion that heretics and schismatics have not fallen away, but are so-called “sick members of the Church”, in whom the grace of God works in an equally saving manner as on the members of the True Orthodox Church. We confess that all the members of the Church who live in the world and bear flesh are sick through their sins, and only in the True Church of Christ can they receive true healing and salvation. But deviation into heresies and schisms is nothing else than falling away from the Body of the True Orthodox Church. That is why, as the Holy New Martyrs of Russia taught, the Moscow Patriarchate is not the True Church of Christ and its sacraments cannot be effective for salvation.
However, we do not thereby usurp the Judgements of God and do not boldly declare that the Lord is not able to turn to repentance and save a sincere Christian soul that remains in the official church, but affirm that salvation is possible only through entering the Church of Christ.
We decree that clergy coming into the True Church from the MP must be received through repentance and the carrying out on them of an additional laying on of hands (kheirothesia) by the hierarchs of the True Orthodox Church with the aim of completing the ordinations (kheirotonia) that the arriving clergy received from the apostate hierarchy of the MP.
Concerning the rite of reception from heretical and schismatic communities, the Russian True Orthodox Church, as a part of the once united Local Russian Church, continues to preserve Her heritage, Her historically formed local traditions and conciliar decrees, at the basis of which was laid the principle of ecclesiastical condescension (oikonomia), in order that, according to the word of the holy Hierarch Philaret (Voznesensky), First Hierarch of ROCOR, “many should not be driven from the Church”.
In spite of the fact that there now exists an admissible variety of differences in the rites of reception of laymen practiced by some True Orthodox Churches, we consider that it is necessary to proceed towards the overcoming of these differences, basing ourselves on the dogmatic teaching of the Church. For the time being it is possible to relate to these differences in the rites of reception in same way as did St. Cyprian of Carthage in his letter to Jubian: “But someone will say: what will happen to those who, before this, having converted from heresy to the Church, were received into the Church without baptism? The Lord by His mercy is powerful to give them forgiveness, and not to deprive of the gifts of His Church those who, having been received into the Church, reposed in the Church”.
A basis for changing the rite of reception of laymen from the MP could be, for example, facts concerning the open, official concelebration of the hierarchy of the MP with Roman Catholics or other heretics.
Confessing the RTOC to be the True Russian Church and the canonical successor in law of the Catacomb and Abroad Churches, we do not isolate ourselves and do not dare to think of ourselves as “the only true Church”.
We confess unity of Faith with our brothers, the Old Calendarist Orthodox Christians in Greece and other countries, who reject the unia with ecumenical and new calendarist official Orthodoxy, and who do not accept the heresy of ecumenism either in its open confession or in its hidden form in the teaching on the “sick in faith” members of the Church.
The Sacred Council of the Russian True Orthodox Church confirms the validity [dejstvennost’] of the decree of the ROCOR Council of August 15/28, 1932, which decreed “the condemnation of Masonry as a teaching and organization hostile to Christianity, and the condemnation also of all teachings and organizations that are akin to Masonry”. In accordance with this conciliar decree, the idea of the “new world order” begotten by Masonry is subject to condemnation, as well as the processes of globalization introduced with this aim in mind, and the systems of global control over mankind that are directed to preparing society for the establishment of the power of the Antichrist in the future.
Remaining faithful to the heritage of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Catacomb Church, we witness that for True Orthodox archpastors and pastors participation in the processes of world apostasy, one of the forms of which is contemporary political activity is not permitted. In his service the Orthodox pastor must guard his flock from the destructive influence of “this world”, and the official Orthodoxy that goes in step with it, as well as from the imitation artificially generated by it – so-called “alternative Orthodoxy”, explaining to his flock the destructive essence of these phenomena. Both these phenomena, which surround the Church on the left and on the right, derive their origin from one and the same apostate source of this world, and are foreign to True Orthodoxy.
Following the outstanding holy Hierarchs of the Ecumenical and Russian Church, we believe that the power established by God is the Orthodox kingdom. We sorrow over the loss of this God-given Orthodox kingdom by our ancestors, and pray to the Lord for its restoration. However, we also witness to the fact that a truly Orthodox kingdom can be restored in Rus’ only after the repentance of the Russian people and its return to the True Church, for there can be no genuine repentance, nor restoration of an Orthodox monarchy, in a false church. A monarchy founded with the blessing of the church of the evil-doers will have craftiness at its very foundation. Such a kingdom is not pleasing to God; even if great and powerful, it will only prepare the ground for the coming of the Antichrist.
We call on all Orthodox Christians to stand in the Truth, to increase their penitential prayer and union around our Holy Mother – the True Orthodox Church. The spiritual regeneration both of every individual human soul and of society, in general, is possible only through repentance and the conciliar participation of all of us in the Body of Christ, in Which the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and Love, acts. The loss by the community of men of true conciliarity [sobornost’] brings with it the loss of participation in the Body of Christ, which means the loss also of the beneficial action upon this community of the grace of the Holy Spirit. This grace-filled action is possible only through the True Church of Christ.
Understanding this, the contemporary world is trying to substitute artificial spiritual fakes and false-churches for the True Church. For that reason there is nothing dearer for the Orthodox Christian than the genuine regeneration of the True Orthodox Church, the pure Bride of Christ, Who remains faithful to Her Heavenly Bridegroom. Outside the Church salvation and the true spiritual healing of the soul damaged by the passions is impossible. Amen.
The Sacred Council of the Russian True Orthodox Church.
October 17/30, 2008.
Holy Prophet Hosea.
St. Lazarus “the Four-Day-Dead”, Bishop of Kition.