by Reader Timothy
It is just over a year since I made contact with the True Church of Christ through our Parish in Guildford. I was struggling for six months in world orthodoxy to get to the bottom of the question of which parish to join. For most of that time, I was split, primarily geographically, between an Antiochian New Calendar parish, with regular services, and a parish that had recently joined the Red Church after Bartholomew had dissolved the Exarchate who only were able to hold services once a month with a different visiting priest each time. Glory to God for placing me in a situation where I had to keep asking questions.
I was fairly sure that I wanted to stick with the Old Calendar, but the more I researched, trying to find a way to choose, the more I turned up contradictions and questions until I finally bit the bullet and entertained the impossible question: What if the Moscow Patriarchate has fallen?
Rome fell, after all, nearly a thousand years ago, and there are still millions upon millions who haven’t received the memo, and still think it is the Church of Christ. It doesn’t help that Rome herself needs to perpetuate this lie in order to keep their palaces.
Anyway, here is an excerpt from an email I wrote to a friend around the time I was finally getting a grip on the situation as it is. I still had much to learn, as I still do, but I offer it now as a reasonably brief synopsis of what I discovered and why I did what all the world orthodox enquirers and ‘catechumens’ are warned never to do – look into the True Orthodox.
May it help anyone who, like me, just couldn’t seem to find which of the world orthodox churches was the best to join and was having trouble, as a result, understanding the Creed itself.
“I am currently still trying to get to the bottom of the Church mystery. It’s taken yet another turn.
Broadly, I was looking for a Church that shared my willingness, and even my actual desire, to take the word of God as literally as possible. I had already philosophically aligned myself with immaterialism, as you know, so it was not a great leap for me to consider reality itself to be completely malleable to the will of God – the material hypothesis has never been proven after all, and the double-slit experiment makes it clear that reality is actually governed by mind. There is no proof of the absolutist material position that matter is the only thing we can be sure of, or that there is such a thing as an objective reality.
My full Christian conversion was based around a realization that the Law, the Law of the Commonwealth, Common Law, is in fact summed up in Matthew 22:37-40. The True Christian does not need to know the secrets of the Universe, he is more concerned with following the Master and these two commandments, which supersede all others.
As far as I know, this is incontrovertibly true, however much modern progressives or revisionists may want to come in after the fact and say that the idea of God and the idea of Law as a result of Divine intervention in history are ‘primitive superstitions’. If the Law is a primitive superstition then they have no right to try and use it to make anyone do anything, much less to enjoy its protection themselves. This is what Jesus is driving at when the Pharisees challenge his authority, and he replies by asking them from where John the Baptist derives his authority. The Pharisees, more in love with their social hierarchical position than actual truth, refuse to answer. Jesus declines then to answer their question about His authority.
This same applies now, if you are willing to have the correct discussion with a magistrate and speak in the proper terms. The Law is effectively on the side of the righteous and has basically zero relevance to you if you are keeping the Faith and Christ’s commandments, as St Paul tells us. Nothing can change this. 1 Timothy 1:9-11.
Anyway, all that takes a lot of explaining, even to the Christians [in this email I am using this term in the broadest possible sense – I.e. all those simply confessing some kind of faith in the Lord Christ – RT] I find, and my mission has been to find out if there are any extant Christians who are truly aware of this and still willing to try and live like this.
I thought I had found that with the Russian Orthodox, and with the Orthodox in general. However, even before I began enquiring, I had been warned off the Greeks, as it is fairly commonly held notion that they have fallen away from True Orthodoxy and the Patriarch has become a puppet. This is evidenced by his frequent meetings with the Pope (I’ve seen a picture of him kissing his head!), and his stepping out of his jurisdictional boundaries to interfere in the Ukraine and recognise a schismatic church there.
Okay, so that seemed to make things simpler – not the Greeks. The Antiochians seemed sound, except they were on the New Calendar. This is not a problem, per se, except that adopting the New Calendar was not approved by a whole Council, an Ecumenical Council. Greece went first, and they have gradually been followed by the Romanians, the Bulgarians, the Antiochians, the Alexandrians, and in the case of the first three (Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania) this has resulted in the formation of ‘schismatic’ churches who have stuck with the old calendar. This is the Old Calendarist movement.
I thought maybe it didn’t matter and was enjoying visiting the Antiochian Church on Sundays, despite the fact that their reader wears a mask (this is the person who chants out the Psalms and leads the singing). However, I recently saw a video of their Patriarch, John, allowing a Muslim preacher to preach an Islamic/ecumenist sermon from in front of the Iconostasis in his Church. During the speech, this Iman mentioned Our Lord Jesus Christ, and said “Peace be upon Him” as if he were dead! Unbelievable. At the end, they embrace and kiss.
It is widely believed, amongst traditional Orthodox of any stripe, the laymen, that this kind of thing is absolutely against the grain, not okay. The whole point of the Orthodox doctrine is not that there are other interpretations of deity and so on, it is that there is a Divine revelation, we have had it, and we are to preserve it, unchanged, at all costs. This is what countless martyrs have gone to their deaths and eternal reward over – their refusal to budge even one inch on points of the Truth as revealed to mankind through the revelation of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
So what is exactly is going on here???
The Alexandrians support the Ecumenical Patriarch (EP or the Greeks) in their interference with Ukraine, so many of their bishops are leaving to go to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Romanians and the Bulgarians condemn the EP, but they have still got the New Calendar, so broadly they aren’t even keeping with the canons of the church and haven’t been for years.
As it turns out, the Moscow Patriarchate ‘fell’ shortly after the Bolshevik revolution under pressure from the murderous and torture-happy state, and the True Church was preserved by the emigre Churches – the Archdiocese of Western Europe and ROCOR (Russian Church Outside Russia), and, apparently, by an underground ‘Catacomb’ Church in Russia.
Although the Moscow Patriarchate theoretically survived, for many years it was guilty of a heresy known as ‘Sergianism’ which is named after a puppet Patriarch who issued what is considered to be a caesaropapist (the church is a subject of the state) statement about the church sharing the troubles and cares of the state itself – the communist state. Thus the church had become the official state-sponsored and controlled religion of the godless atheist communists. Again, not acceptable to real Christians.
However, according to the ‘official’ line today, communism has fallen and all the problems like that are long gone, and so in 2007 ROCOR signed a reunification agreement with the MP. Many in ROCOR did not approve of this, and they do not believe that the MP has come out from under the yoke of the ‘godless authority’. These people who could not go along with this have now been branded extremists and schismatics, since, theoretically, only enemies of the Church could possibly want to stand in the way of this great reunification and healing.
The ROCOR remnant, those who objected, believe that this was in fact ROCOR falling away and becoming schismatic as the MP had fallen and had not recovered or purged itself of Sergianism and Ecumenism. Since the MP and the EP, despite their disagreements over Ukraine are still in communion at the level of the lay people, this is actually a fairly compelling argument, when you chuck in the fact that the new Calendar is being used all over despite this being strictly against canon law as it has not been approved by council or synod). Moscow appears to be representing a ‘traditionalist’ Orthodoxy as they are still on the old calendar and are apparently disputing various things with the EP, but I’ve seen this left-shoe right-shoe shuffle before – in UK politics – and it’s a classic tactic for divide and conquer.
The ROCOR remnant and some others (Greek Old Calendarists, Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendarists) now believe that ‘World Orthodoxy’ even though it ‘appears’ to be riven with supposed disagreements whilst struggling to maintain unity at all costs, is in fact all just a soap opera to keep people distracted and arguing about things when in fact the truth is that the entire edifice has fallen away from Christ and is currently without Grace i.e. the majority is now in Schism, rather than the other way round. Some people think that the fact of having the majority is one way to determine who still has Divine Grace (mob rule in other words), but I am not sure this holds up, since everyone in all jurisdictions is having to ignore, one way or another, the fact that, at the top, ‘Orthodox’ Bishops and ‘Patriarchs’ are swanning around with Catholic Cardinals at pricey inter-faith dinners, and huge abuses of Church protocol have been dictated to the various Churches at the local level and apparently accepted and enforced by many Bishops as a result of the recent pantomime/masquerade by the Temporal powers of this world. Liturgies have been canceled!
The Bible warns the faithful again and again to watch out for this kind of thing, but it currently seems to be happening on an absolutely unprecedented scale.
There was chaos and hell to pay when Rome fell, and there was chaos and hell to pay when Constantinople fell. It seems safe to assume the largest of them all, the Third Rome – Moscow – would cause an absolutely unprecedented mess for the faithful thereafter.
We can wonder if there has ever been a precedent for chaos of this kind in the Church when the actual hierarchy itself went into what was later discovered to be a Schism – the answer is yes, at least twice, during the Iconoclast heresy, the first of which lasted for over 50 years.
Thus, since the 2007 re-unification thingie between MP and ROCOR (the “Act of Canonical Union”) – the main point of dispute is only 14 years ago, and also since the Old Calendarists and ROCOR remnant claim that they have not broken with tradition the entire time since others first starting using the New Calendar in the 1920s, there is precedent for this kind of thing that has lasted a lot longer.
During the Iconoclastic heretical period, a council of Bishops was convened that endorsed Iconoclasm but which was later deemed un-canonical, since there were not present representatives of all the Patriarchates – Rome did not send one, and Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were all under Muslim occupation and did not have sitting Hierarchs! This was in the 700s AD.
There is also record of an Old Calendarist miracle in the 1920s (1925 Ed.), witnessed by over two thousand people, including some police who had been sent to the site of the miracle – a secret Old Calendarist Church celebrating, of all things, The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (old calendar date, ofc!) – to arrest the ‘rogue’ priests who were serving according to the ancient tradition. Some of the police reportedly converted on the spot.
So what is the upshot?
I haven’t found a Church yet (when this original email was written, Ed), but I am thinking of contacting the Russian True Orthodox Church who existed as the underground or Catacomb Church of Russia, and still claim to have Bishops with full apostolic succession and to be some of the only Orthodox left upholding the unchanging faith in the manner passed down through the ages, along with various Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendarists.
They claim that the twin heresies of Sergianism (subjecting the Church to the State) and Cyprianism (allowing heretical Priests to continue to play a liturgical role in Church life and hoping that the laity will somehow resist the corruption from such a practice) have basically shot the Church to pieces and it is now a pretend church, massive though it may be, and it will soon be swallowed up by the heresy of heresies – Ecumenism, as part of a One-World, Watered-Down relativistic Universalist Faith along with the Anglicans, the V2 Catholics, the Pagans and anyone else who wants a seat at the table, which is in fact the unholy banquet of satan.
Glory to God for all things. As the reader may guess, I did indeed contact the Russian True Orthodox Church, and finally got some straight answers. It was a breath of fresh air after all the dancing around the issues that the world orthodox have to do to keep ignoring the plain truth – there is no Grace in the world orthodox churches.
May God have mercy on them and on us.