Eastern Orthodox Church

second-largest Christian church
(Redirected from Russian Orthodox Church)

The Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian Christian Church and one of the oldest extant religious institutions in the world. The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission to the apostles. It practices what it understands to be the original Christian faith and maintains the sacred tradition passed down from the apostles, with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the apostlic successor of Andrew the Apostle.


  • The Western Church, from the tenth century downwards, has privily brought into herself through the papacy various and strange and heretical doctrines and innovations, and so she has been torn away and removed far from the true and orthodox Church of Christ. How necessary, then, it is for you to come back and return to the ancient and unadulterated doctrines of the Church in order to attain the salvation in Christ after which you press.
    • Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos (Synodal reply to the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, 1895).
  • The Orthodox Church does not have a centralized authority or leadership, instead comprising a constellation of independent and equal national churches, among which the Ecumenical Patriarch is historically and traditionally honored as 'first among equals.' In this regard, the ecumenical Patriarchate bears a primacy of honor and service; its authority lies not in administration but in coordination. Therefore, it serves as the primary focal point of unity, fostering consensus among the various Orthodox churches. In addition to the responsibility of facilitating Orthodox unity, the Ecumenical Patriarch has immediate jurisdiction over the Greek, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Russian, and Albanian Orthodox churches in the United States and Canada as well as all Greek Orthodox churches in Europe, South America, Australasia, and the areas of Greece freed from Turkish occupation after the Balkan wars, including Crete and Macedonia.
    • Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbiship of Constantiople, Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today, The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group: New York, 2008, p. 34.
  • From the outset in 1917, the Communists believed in a utopian ideology, extreme, organised violence, atheism, a redefined place of the individual that served to reject Enlightenment precepts, and the rejection of preceding Russian history. During the Civil War and the 1920s, the Orthodox Church was crushed, with the slaughter of tens of thousands of priests and monks, and the desecration and destruction of churches, monasteries and the tombs of saints. The real and spiritual landscapes of Russia and the psychological life of the people were transformed as a consequence. Communism in its own way therefore constituted a major civilisational challenge to the notion in Europe and North America of a ‘Western Civilisation’, whether or not articulated explicitly in this fashion. This civilisation owed much to Christianity and placed considerable weight on liberalism and toleration. From this perspective, Communism, drawing both on a reconceptualisation of Russian authoritarianism and on a new, totalitarian ideology and practice, posed a counter-civilisational challenge with its own precepts, aims, methods and anticipated outcomes. The chiliastic significance of Communist aspirations deserve emphasis. This significance was also to be seen in subsequent Communist revolutions. Moreover, aside from its hostility to the peace settlements following both World War One and the Russian Civil War, the very assumptions and core policies of the Soviet Union posed a major and continuing challenge to the international system. This was more serious, because the successor states established in Eastern Europe after World War One were relatively weak as well as divided by territorial aspirations. This created a volatile situation that was open to exploitation by aggressive states.
  • On the eve of the Bolshevik coup d'état, the Orthodox Church claimed a hundred million adherents, two hundred thousand priests and monks, seventy-five thousand churches and chapels, over eleven hundred monasteries, thirty-seven thousand primary schools, fifty-seven seminaries and four university-level academies, not to speak of thousands of hospitals, old people’s homes and orphanages. Within a few years, the intuitional structures were swept away, the churches were desolated, vandalized or put to secular use. Many of the clergy were imprisoned or shot; appropriately enough the first concentration camp of the gulag was opened in a monastery in Artic regions.
    • Michael Burleigh, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, From the Great War to the War on Terror (2006), p. 40
  • The present Condition of this Nation is so miserable, and so apt to produce all the most tender Motions of Compassion in those who seriously reflect upon it, that 'twou'd be needless to heighten the Gloominess of the Prospect by comparing it with their former Glory, which after a long and fatal Eclipse, was restor'd to its ancient Splendor by Constantine the Great, whose Memory will last till the final Period of the World. But the Empire of the East, which he founded, and united to that of the West, was divided again after his Death, and continu'd in a declining Condition till the final Overthrow of the Palaeologi by the Turks, in the Fifteenth Age; since which time the Greeks have still been Slaves in a Country of which they were formerly Sovereigns; and to redeem themselves from the Yoak under which they are born, they are forc'd to pay a yearly Tribute, call'd the Carache, which is only impos'd upon them, and their Fellow-Slaves the Jews. The Carache is a perpetual Poll-Tax, and exceeds not four Piasters a Man; and yet since 'tis a Mark of their Bondage, they have left no Means unessay'd to deliver themselves from it, and have even offer'd to raise more considerable Summs another way. Besides, there are oftentimes large Avanies impos'd upon 'em, which they levy among themselves, according to the proportion of their Estates. All their Patriarchs, Bishops, and Abbots are also oblig'd to pay for their Patents; and the Prices that are exacted of 'em cannot but amount to a very considerable Summ, since there are above five Thousand Arch-Bishops and Bishops in the Turkish Empire, who, reckoning one with another, pay above two Thousand Piasters a-piece, as a Fine to the Grand Signior. The Greeks are naturally Proud, and lovers of Pomp and Magnificence: Most of 'em spend higher than their Estates will bear, and are very fond of the Title of Chelety or Lord. Yet even the richest of 'em, of which there is a considerable Number, are look'd upon as Objects of Scorn and Contempt by the Turks. 'Tis true, they are not insensible of their Slavery, and perhaps wou'd willingly shake off the insupportable Yoak of their Domineering Masters; but the Natural Impatience of their Temper is more than sufficiently curb'd by their Weakness, and want of Power; and they must e'en content themselves with repining in secret at the resistless Tyranny of their Oppressors: For they are seldom or never able to obtain Satisfaction for the Injuries they receive from the Turks, if the Offenders are not wholly destitute both of Friends and Money.
  • The East is unfamiliar with those confessions, memoirs, and autobiographies so beloved in the West. There is a clear difference in tonality. One's gaze never lingers on the suffering humanity of Christ, but penetrates behind the kenotic veil. To the West's mysticism of the Cross and its veneration of the Sacred Heart corresponds the eastern mysticism of the sealed tomb, from which eternal life eternal wells up.
    • Paul Evdokimov, Orthodoxy, 1968.
  • The Orthodox Church then, is guardian of Holy Scripture, but she is also the protector of the Tradition in which the Bible’s teachings are maintained and promulgated. She is the repository of all Scriptural truth. In short, Orthodoxy sees the Christian Faith as composed of Holy Scripture, the teachings of the Fathers, the liturgy of the Church throughout the centuries, the Creeds of the Church, and the Holy Mysteries. Orthodox Christians believe that Almighty God has revealed Himself in these many wondrous ways, and has enriched the life of His people in doing so!
  • Marriages are not permitted on the eves of Wednesdays and Fridays. During the Great Fast from Dairy Sunday up to the first Tuesday after Pascha. During the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos Fast, which consists of a two week period from August 1-15. During the Holy Apostles’ Fast: Monday after All Saints to June 28. During the Nativity Advent, the period before Christ’s Birth. On Saturday, on the eves of the Twelve Great Feasts, on the day before the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, (August 29th), and the day before the Exaltation of the Cross (Sept. 14th).
  • A Christianity split into a diversity of ecclesiastical streams, the dualism implicit within its political agenda – nation-forming on the one side, universalism on the other was further accentuated. The classical eastern orthodox form stressing the power of the emperor was in principle universalist enough in its vision of Constantinople as the New Rome, but in practice Byzantium became a rather thoroughly Greek empire, then among non-Greeks in Egypt, Syria or the west. This combined with its considerable degree of Caesaropapism led to the generation of a type of church-state relationship characteristic of eastern autocephalous churches of a highly nationalist type.
    • Adrian Hastings (1997). The construction of nationhood: ethnicity, religion, and nationalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 202. ISBN 0-521-62544-0. 
  • The 2014 “constitution” of the “[Donetsk People’s Republic]” – we refer here to the original 2014 version; it has been amended in subsequent published versions, probably also for propaganda purposes – [is the first constitution] in the world that makes fighting “cults” a constitutional principle. Article 21 of the 2014 “constitution” called for “the implementation of policies to protect the public from the activities of religious cults” (I explained at length in Bitter Winter why “секта” in Russian and similar words in other languages should be translated as “cult” and not as “sect.”) …What is happening in the pseudo-“Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” is a perfect representation of the dystopic Orthodox theocracy Putin’s ideologists have in mind for a “Russian World” whose borders they continuously expand.
  • Yugoslavia resembled Czechoslovakia in that it was a miniature empire run by Serbs, and with considerably more brutality than the Czechs ran theirs. In parts of it there had been continuous fighting since 1912, and the frontiers were not settled (if that is the word) until 1926. The Orthodox Serbs ran the army and the administration, but the Catholic Croats and Slovenes, who had much higher cultural and economic standards, talked of their duty to 'Europeanize the Balkans' (i.e. the Serbs) and their fears that they themselves would be 'Balkanized.' R.W. Seton-Watson, who had been instrumental in creating the new country, was soon disillusioned by the way the Serbs ran it: 'The situation in Jugoslavia,' he wrote in 1921, 'reduces me to despair.... I have no confidence in the new constitution, with its absurd centralism.' The Serb officials were worse than the Habsburgs, he complained, and Serb opposition more savage than German. 'My own inclination,' he wrote in 1928, '... is to leave the Serbs and Croats to stew in their own juice! I think they are both mad and cannot see beyond the ends of their noses.' Indeed, MPs had just been blazing away at each other with pistols in parliament, the Croat Peasant Party leader, Stepan Radic, being killed in the process. The country was held together, if at all, not so much by the Serb political police as by the smouldering hatred of its Italian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Albanian neighbors, all of whom had grievances to settle.
  • Along with Moisiodax, Rigas Velestinlis (he too a Vlach), Nikolaos Zervoulis, Dimitrios Darvaris, Nikolaos Piccolos, and Arhanacios Vogoridis had all assimilated into Hellenism at the time. During much of the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, Hellenism served in the Balkans as an ecumenical cultural ideal, very much like the role it played in the eastern Mediterranean of the Hellenistic period and of late antiquity. Although not supported by military might as was the case in Alexander’s time, it attained enormous prestige. Indeed, Greek culture along with Orthodoxy and the Ottoman administration served as the three unifying forces in the Balkans. Hellenism expanded throughout the region because Greeks had dominated the four areas— religion, economy, administration, and intellectual life—that constituted the shared substratum of Balkan life (Tsourkas 1967: 212). Ethnic Greeks occupied positions of enormous prestige and influence in the Ottoman administration and served for decades as governors of Walachia and Moldavia. Greek had become the language of commerce and Hellenism the secular culture of the Balkans (Camariano-Cioran 1974: 15, 311). The economic and political power of the Greeks enabled them to have more contacts with Westerners than their neighbours, which explains in part their earlier attempts at modernization.
    • Gregory Jusdanis (2001). The Necessary Nation. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. pp. 122. ISBN 0-691-08902-7. 
  • This 'heroic' aspect of the Partisan struggle, deeply inspiring to scholars-turned-soldiers like Deakin, reads well on the page. But in practice of waging a politico-military campaign over the length and breadth of Yugoslavia brought untold suffering to its peoples. Their history was already one of bitter and violent rivalry, which the war had reawoken. In the north leaders of the Catholic Croats had taken advantage of Italian sponsorship to unleash a campaign of expulsion, forced conversion, and extermination against the Orthodox Serbs. Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina took a hand in the civil war also, while in the south the Serbs of Kosovo were attacked by their Albanian neighbors. The Chetniks, for their part, contested authority in the Serb lands with the Partisans, with whom they had failed to agree a join strategy, but did not open war with the German occupiers lest that provoke reprisals. Tito hardened his heart against reprisals; indeed, he saw Axis atrocities as a spur to recruitment. He deliberately drew the Germans after him in seven so-called 'offensives' that left the countryside through which his Partisans marched a wasteland. The villagers had either to follow the Partisans 'into the woods' (a traditional description of the whereabouts of resisters to the Turks) or stay and await reprisals. Kardelji, Tito's deputy, was emphatic about the desirability of confronting the uncommitted with such a dilemma: 'Some commanders are afraid of reprisals and that fear prevents the mobilisation of villages. I consider the reprisals will have the useful result of throwing Croatian villages on the side of Serb villages. In war we must not be frightened of the destruction of whole villages. Terror will bring about armed action.' Kardelji's analysis was correct.
  • A further weakness was that despite certain borrowings from the West, Russia remained technologically backward and economically underdeveloped. Extremes of climate and the enormous distances and poor communications partly accounted for this, but so also did severe social defects: the military absolutism of the czars, the monopoly of education in the hands of the Orthodox Church, the venality and unpredictability of the bureaucracy, and the institution of serfdom, which made agriculture feudal and static. Yet despite this relative backwardness, and despite the setbacks, Russia continued to expand, imposing upon its new territories the same military force and autocratic rule which was used to command the obedience of the Muscovites. Enough had been borrowed from Europe to give the regime the armed strength to preserve itself, while all possibility of western social and political “modernization” was firmly resisted; foreigners in Russia, for example, were segregated from the natives in order to prevent subversive influences. Unlike the other despotisms mentioned in this chapter, the empire of the czars would manage to survive and Russia would one day grow to be a world power. Yet in 1500, and even as late as 1650, this was scarcely obvious to many Frenchmen, Dutchmen, and Englishmen, who probably knew as much about the Russian ruler as they did about the legendary Prester John.
    • Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-1900 (1987)
  • The existence of Russia is of a great spiritual and cultural value – not only for you and me, but for all humanity. And we are calling for the preservation of the people of Russia, for the birth of our new compatriots, not only and not so much because these people are needed by the country, but also to a great extent because this country is needed by people. Russia must exist and play its irreplaceable role in our destiny with you, in the destiny of our descendants and throughout world history. The special value of Russia, its special vocation is to be a stronghold of Orthodox Christianity. To preserve the Orthodox faith, Orthodox tradition and culture, Christian moral principles intact. Maybe that is why the powers that be are so ganged up on the Russian Orthodox Church, wanting to tear away the Greek Orthodox world from the Russian Church, wanting to destroy the unity of the Orthodox Church. We possess reliable information that everything that is happening now in world Orthodoxy is not an accident, not just the whim of a religious figure whose mind has become clouded. This is the implementation of a very specific plan that aims to tear the Greek world away from Russia. According to the perpetrators — I cannot describe these strategists in any other way — the Russian Church appears to be some kind of “soft power”, through which Russia influences the world around it. But why can’t Russia share its spiritual gifts? Is it criminal? This can be criminal only in the view of those who seek to weaken, and if possible to destroy the influence of Russia. In this whole story related to the problem of recognition or non-recognition of Ukrainian schismatics by the Local Orthodox Churches, there is something that is not declared, but which is the main goal of the forces behind the scenes that unleashed this schismatic activity. We in the Russian Church understand this clearly, but today our brothers in Greece and other Orthodox Churches also understand this. We are being asked to resist, not to flinch, to continue the struggle to maintain the spiritual independence of the Russian Orthodox Church from all these centres of world influence, and most importantly – to maintain the unity of Universal Orthodoxy. This is not a simple task. The Church has no army. The Church has no material means. So it is not easy without material means to build the spiritual defense.
  • To the Russian, indeed to any member of the Orthodox church, the priest is not the teacher and guide in matters of religion, but is above all the miracle-worker, the magician. The Russian looks upon his priest as a live "good conductor" of divine grace, as a passive mediator. The Russian is a consistent passivist. Salvation comes to man without his personal collaboration, and even the priest plays no individual part here. This is why in Russia (as in the east) the monk is held in much higher esteem than the ordinary priest.
  • The sheer scale of America in the 1920s was impressive, and its variety was downright astonishing. The nation’s population had nearly doubled since 1890, when it had numbered just sixty-three million souls. At least a third of the increase was due to a huge surge of immigrants. Most of them had journeyed to America from the religiously and culturally exotic regions of southern and eastern Europe. Through the great hall in the immigrant receiving center on New York’s Ellis Island, opened in 1892, streamed in the next three decades almost four million Italian Catholics; half a million Orthodox Greeks; half a million Catholic Hungarians; nearly a million and a half Catholic Poles; more than two million Jews, largely from Russian-controlled Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania; half a million Slovaks, mostly Catholic; millions of other eastern Slavs from Byelorussia, Ruthenia, and Russia, mostly Orthodox; more millions of southern Slavs, a mix of Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, and Jew, from Rumania, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro. The waves of arrivals after the turn of the century were so enormous that of the 123 million Americans recorded in the census of 1930, one in ten was foreign born, and an additional 20 percent had at least one parent born abroad.
  • The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.
    The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. By 1939 only about 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open.
    After Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, Joseph Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort. By 1957 about 22,000 Russian Orthodox churches had become active. But in 1959 Nikita Khrushchev initiated his own campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church and forced the closure of about 12,000 churches. By 1985 fewer than 7,000 churches remained active. Members of the church hierarchy were jailed or forced out, their places taken by docile clergy, many of whom had ties with the KGB.
  • Yugoslavia was itself the flawed creation of the ruin of empires in 1918, dominated until the Second World War by the Serbian monarchy yet comprising Muslim Bosnians and Kosovan Albanians, Orthodox Montenegrins and Serbs, and Catholic Croats. Out of the brutal ethnic slaughters of the two world wars, the long-serving dictator Marshal Josip Tito, whose Partisans had liberated Yugoslavia from Nazi occupation, had created a strong regime, using his own charismatic personality and, less well-known, terror, secret police and concentration camps. Yet Tito controlled the deadly ethnic feuds of the Balkans and gave his peoples almost 30 years of peace and order. But the revolving presidency implemented after his death in 1980 left a stewing ethnic cauldron lacking a strong hand to control it. Milošević filled this vacuum with his death squads, condottiere and psychopathic warlords, coordinated and financed at his personal command.
  • You know, as I already mentioned, in 988 Prince Vladimir himself was baptized following the example of his grandmother, Princess Olga, and then he baptized his retinue, and then gradually, over the course of several years, he baptized all Rus. It was a lengthy process – from pagans to Christians, it took many years. But in the end, this Orthodoxy, Eastern Christianity, deeply rooted itself in the consciousness of the Russian people. When Russia expanded and absorbed other nations who profess Islam, Buddhism and Judaism, Russia has always been very loyal to those people who profess other religions. This is its strength. This is absolutely clear. And the fact is that the main postulates, main values are very similar, not to say the same, in all world religions I’ve just mentioned and which are the traditional religions of the Russian Federation, Russia. By the way, Russian authorities were always very careful about the culture and religion of those peoples who came to join the Russian Empire. This, in my opinion, forms the basis of both security and stability of the Russian statehood – all the peoples inhabiting Russia basically consider it their Motherland.
  • In antiquity, the power of Greek cities was manifested by their ability to found far—off, independent colonies, where the cities and colonies were connected more by language, culture, and history than by law or a hierarchical relationship. This is what the French geographer Georges Prévélakis calls a “galactic” organization, as opposed to a “dendritic” organization based on the relation between a centre and its periphery. The spread of Roman power—first by the republic, then the empire—over the entire Mediterranean did not cause Hellenism to disappear as a cultural unity. After the empire split in two in 395, Hellenism actually blossomed in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, where it became the principal cultural component, especially in the religious domain: The Great Schism of 1054 divided Roman Catholics from the Greek Orthodox. Even political power became Hellenized. The seizure of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire, but Hellenism survived in the Ottoman Empire. Along with the Jews and the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church was allowed to establish an autonomous religious community, called milliet, that was responsible for the allocation and collection of taxes and for such matters as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. With the development of the Mediterranean trading system in the sixteenth century, Greek communities appeared outside the empire, including western Europe (Livorno and Venice) and Russia. Contact with Enlightenment philosophy and the ideas of 1789 fed the aspiration for a Greek state. This was created in 1830, founded on the ambition of restoring Greater Greece by recovering the Ottoman territories of Asia Minor. That hope collapsed in 1922-23 with the end of the Greco-Turkish war and the territorial agreement between the two countries.
    • William Rodarmor; Stephane Dufoix (2008). Diasporas. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 39. ISBN 0-520-25359-0. 
  • First, Greece: for modern Greeks, as I intimated, the future could mirror ‘the past’ past’ in more than one way, since there was a clear split in that past. One school argued for the Byzantine roots and glory of Greece. They pointed to the massive influx of Slavic immigrants in the sixth and succeeding centuries throughout the Balkans and Greece, and claimed that this had weakened the links with a decayed Hellenic (or Hellenistic— Roman) culture. What was Byzantine was essentially Orthodox Christianity only the Greek language and liturgy retained any connection with a pre-Christian past. In the Orthodox millet of the Ottoman empire, Christianity had kept a Byzantine Greek ethnic alive, as in a chrysalis, ready to be transformed under the impact of Western ideas and commercialization in the late eighteenth century. For the Byzantine-Orthodox clergy and their flocks, for the notables in the Mores and Phanariots in Constantinople, this grandiose dream of a restored Byzantine empire under Greek control located the re-nascent Greek people and charted their future in the Aegean and Ionia. It also pointed the way to a restored agrarian society of peasants, notables and clergy, essentially smallholders, but led by educated Orthodox elites under the Patriarch.
  • Greeks, Jews, and Armenians after their subordination to others and emigration or expulsion from their original homelands became Diaspora ethno-religious communities cultivating the particular virtues and aptitudes of their traditions. These included a respect for scholarship and learning, derived from constant study of sacred texts (and in the Greek case some of their ancient secular texts seen through religious filters); and hence a generally high status accorded to religious scholars and clergy within each enclave. Allied to this was a marked aptitude for literary expression—poetic, philosophical, legal, liturgical, linguistic, and historical. Greek Phanariot merchants and traders dominated the commerce of the Ottoman empire, utilizing their kinship networks and social and religious institutions to maximize not only their business and assets, but also their cultural capital. Diaspora Greeks became especially prominent from the eighteenth century in the development of printing and the press, and experienced a major intellectual revival in cities as far afield as Vienna, Venice, Odessa, Paris, and Amsterdam
    • Anthony D. Smith (1999). Myths and memories of the nation. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 212-215. ISBN 0-19-829534-0.  : Chapter: Greeks, Armenians and Jews
  • Orthodox churches were stripped of their valuables in 1922 at the instigation of Lenin and Trotsky. In subsequent years, including both the Stalin and the Khrushchev periods, tens of thousands of churches were torn down or desecrated, leaving behind a disfigured wasteland that bore no resemblance to Russia such as it had stood for centuries. Entire districts and cities of half a million inhabitants were left without a single church. Our people were condemned to live in this dark and mute wilderness for decades, groping their way to God and keeping to this course by trial and error. The grip of oppression that we have lived under, and continue to live under, has been so great that religion, instead of leading to a free blossoming of the spirit, has been manifested in asserting the faith on the brink of destruction, or else on the seductive frontiers of Marxist rhetoric, where so many souls have come to grief.
  • When received into the Orthodox Church, a convert promises, ‘I will accept and understand Holy Scripture in accordance with the interpretation which was and is held by the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of the East, our Mother.
    • Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church Penguin Books Ltd., 1993/04/29.
  • The doctrinal definitions of an Ecumenical Council are infallible. Thus in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, the statements of faith put out by the seven councils possess, along with the Bible, an abiding and irrevocable authority.
    • Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church Penguin Books Ltd., 1993/04/29, p. 205.
  • Orthodox Canon Law, while permitting a second or even a third marriage, absolutely forbids a fourth.
    • Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church Penguin Books Ltd., 1993/04/29. p. 295.
  • The role of religion is important both on the American and Russian side [of the Cold War]. While the position of organized faith was already in decline in Europe (and in many other places, too) by the end of the nineteenth century, Russians and Americans still saw religion as has having a central place in their lives. In a certain sense, there were similarities between American Evangelical Protestantism and Russian Orthodoxy. Both emphasized teleology and certainty of faith above what was common in other Christian groups. Being unconcerned with concepts of original sin, both believed in the perfectibility of society. Most importantly, both Evangelicals and Orthodox believed that their religion inspired their politics in a direct sense. They alone were set to fulfill God’s plan for and with man.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (2017), p. 20

“Orthodox Christian Bioethics: Medical Morality in the Mind of the Fathers” (2013)


H. Trisram Engelhardt, Jr., “Orthodox Christian Bioethics: Medical Morality in the Mind of the Fathers”; in Mark Cherry; John F. Peppin (2013). Religious Perspectives in Bioethics. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781317762416.

  • Western secular morality developed out a fragmented Western Christianity. Against a background of disunity and deep differences, it aspired to a rationally grounded universality. The fragmentation and diversity of Western Christianity invited a secular morality that could transcend the division within Western Christianity and compass all in a single, secular morality. Orthodox Christianity never experienced this fragmentation. Nor did it assume that secular moral reflection, which it experienced as primarily polytheistic, and therefore plural, could provide a unity superior to that available that is ascetic, experiential, liturgical, and noetic.
    • pp.5-6
  • Orthodox Christianity knows the moral life to be a whole, a way of life within which one can enter into union with God. Orthodox theology, morality, and bioethics serve to cure the soul of self-love. As a consequence, distinctions among dogmatic theology, moral theology, and liturgical theology threaten to distort and disorient the live appreciation of theology as a practice transcending the confines of the academy and possessing a closer resemblance to a healing practice, albeit a special one aimed at bringing all into relationship with the truth Whom the Orthodox recognize to be personal, namely, the Trinity (Vlachos, 1994). Morality is recognized as a kind of therapeutic regiment for purifying the person, inviting illumination by God’s grace. As a consequence, the reader therefore must be warned: Orthodox Christianity does not offer a bioethics in the same way in which secular and Roman Catholic thought offers systematic reflections based on settled moral judgments elaborated philosophically towards the goal of developing ever clearer insights into the nature of morality. It contrasts as well with the bioethics of those Western mainline Christian bodies who have attempted in a progressive spirit to develop a moral theology adapted to the cultural concerns and demands of the contemporary age.
    Orthodox Christian morality is a mode of reorienting persons away from themselves and toward God and their fellow-man, thus giving Orthodox bioethics a homiletic rather than a scholarly character. Sine theology ‘’par excellence’’ is directed to purification of the heart and illumination by God’s grace, all theological progress is personal, and the academic endeavors of Orthodox scholars at best clarify the use of terms and develop languages suitable for communicating reflections concerning the Church’s unbroken experience of a timeless truth; the Triune God. The academic endeavors of scholars to afford commentaries on the experience and teachings of the Church Fathers over the centuries. However, such scholarly analysis and commentary are always secondary in authority and importance to theology as an experience of god. Because of the non-developmental character of Orthodox Christian experience of God’s presence, the age of the Fathers has not ended for Orthodoxy, as it did for the West around the 8th century. Strictly speaking, the age of the Fathers is coterminous with the unbroken presence in the Church of the Holy Spirit.
    • pp.21-22
  • Orthodox Christian epistemology is at root noetic or mystical; it acknowledges that the only way beyond a confining finite horizon of experience and texts is via a transforming relation with the transcendent God. For this reason, the theologians par excellence need not be academics or even literate. As Evagrios the Solitary (A.D. 345-399) stresses, “if you are a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly, you are a theologian” (Evagrios, 1988, p.62).
    The result is not just that Orthodox Christianity rejects the discursive rational commitments of Scholasticism and the Enlightenment; it also breaks through the fragmentation of the moral pluralism defining post-modernism. It reaches beyond the confines of particular narratives and texts, which are set within the horizon the finite and the immanent. For example, the Scriptures are neither revelation nor a set of writings relevantly to be reassessed through historical, text-critical, and higher-critical methods. Instead, the Scriptures are records of a revelation whose significance can only be correctly experienced within the grace of the Church which is the body of Christ: their meaning is acquired on the model of Christ’s unlocking the Scriptures on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Within the privileged ascetic and liturgically directed epistemological standpoint of the Church, the writings she has accepted, affirmed, and interpreted become, like an icon, a window so that one can look through the text to God.
    • I Before and Beyond the Scholastic-Enlightenment Project, p.22-23
  • Orthodox Christianity acknowledges its moral truth as nested within a liturgical Now, a moral experience that has existed and been sustained in its fullness since the age of the Apostles. For Orthodox Christianity, its moral theological past is in the present so that Orthodox Christians turn seemingly indiscriminately for guidance to any of the Fathers of any century. This epistemological standpoint within which the past is experienced as “now” is captured in the practice of its liturgical appropriation of the past as present. For example, the Vespers of the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First six Ecumenical councils declares: “Those God-mantled Father have proclaimed today in concert …” (Nassar, 1979, p.558).Despite the circumstance that these councils occurred from the 4th to the 7th centuries, liturgically they are encountered as present.
    The Orthodox Church does not deny terminological development. The Church acknowledges that distinctions, terminologies, and analyses of theological experience take shape within a history. Yet, since Orthodox theology is not primarily an academic discipline but an immediate experience of God, these analytic, conceptual, and academic developments do not constitute theological developments ‘’per se’’. Rather, they are temporally and historically located responses to heresies and articulations of answers to particular questions and puzzles. The contributions of the Fathers from the 3rd to the 8th centuries can be understood as playing a role distantly analogous to the age of the Fathers for the West: they are a rich resource of theological reflection and Scriptural exposition that records the commitments and life of the Church of the first part of the first millennium so that one must think, believe, and act in one with their mind. However, because of the non-developmental character of Orthodox Christianity, the age of the Fathers has not ended, for the same Spirit Who inspired the Gospels inspired the holy Fathers of the 21st century.
    • “The Past in the Present Tense”, p.24
  • The manner in which we [the Orthodox and the West] exist has become ontologically different … the Orthodox Christian does not live in a place of theological and conceptual conversations, but rather in a place of an essential and empirical lifestyle and reality as confirmed by grace in the heart [Heb 13:9]. This grace cannot be put in doubt either by logic or science or other type of argument … However, the change of man’s essence, theosis by grace, is a fact that is tangible for all the Orthodox faithful. Grace is not only obtained through the transformed relics of the saints which is totally inexplicable without acceptance of the divine. Grace also radiates from living Saints who are truly in the likeness of the Lord [Luke 8:46] (Patriarch Bartholomew, 1997).
    • Nicea II, A.D. 787; as qtd in. “The Past in the Present Tense” p.24
  • At one with St. Paul in his first chapter of the letter of the Romans, Orthodox Christianity recognize that moral knowledge is fully and rightly disclosed only within a life marked by right worship. “therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a ie and worshiped the served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen!”(Rom 1:24-25). It should not be surprising to find contemporary Orthodox Christian studies of bioethics developing their analyses in the light of the prayers and liturgies of the Church (Guroian, 1996). Although content for reflection is drawn from liturgical texts, Scripture, the Fathers, and holy Tradition, it is placed within a confident appreciation that the ultimate guide for human conduct is fully revealed in the Church, the Body of Christ in the Holy Spirit, and that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8). In the English language, a number of monographs have already been published embedded in this understanding of moral theology and bioethics (Breck, 1998; Engelhardt, 2000; Harakas, 1990). At one with the Fathers of the ancient Church and those of the 21st century numerous contemporary authors are attempting to state for the contemporary world the enduring significance of the human struggle to Godd and its implications for the proper use of medicine and the biomedical sciences.
    • IV Bioethics as Theology: Theology as Worship, p.29

"A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory, and Practice, and the Believer" (1987)


Dimitry V. Pospielovsky, "A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory, and Practice, and the Believer", St Martin's Press, New York (1987)

  • The beginning of the systematization and centralization of the Soviet antireligious propaganda should be attributed to the birth in 1919 of the first specialized antireligious monthly. The Revolution and the Church (Revolutsiiaitserkov', henceforth RiTs), published by the People's Commissariat of Justice, followed in 1922 by the short-lived Science and Religion (Nauka i religiia, henceforth NiR), edited by the renigade priest Gorev-Galkin, and specializing in condemning the church for resisting the state confiscation of sacramental objects from churches, allegedly to alleviate the famine. It was replaced in the same year by Bezbozhnik (The Godless), a wide-circulation paper at first published thrice monthly, later becoming a weekly.
    The contempt-and-hate campaign in the very first issues of RiTs attempted to represent the Church, the Orthodox Church in particular, as a fraud, and to sow division by singling out the Orthodox church for attack while presenting the Protestant sects (the Churches formerly oppressed by the tsars) as hard-working and loyal, and Moslems as supporting the Soviets.
    One of the first signs was the government decree of 1 March 1919 (reconfirmed in August 1920), regarding the complete liquidation of the cult of corpses and mummies, ordering the opening-up and public exposure of the saints' relics. The Soviet media was particularly eager to present the relics of St Sergius of Radonezh of the fourteenth century, Russia's most revered national saint, as fraudulent. It claimed that there was nothing but cotton-wool, hair, rotten bones and dust in this shrine.
    Believers no longer weep, don't fall into fits of hysteria, and don't hold a grudge against the Soviet goernment anymore. They see there has been no blasphemy...Only an age-old fraud has been made naked in the eyes of the nation.
  • The era of consistent Marxism in Soviet philosophy, historiography and religiology was the era of Prokrovsky, roughly in the first thirty years of our century. Characteristically, M. N. Pokrovsky, in his 600-page Russian History in a Most Condensed Form, devoted not quite a paragraph to the Christianization of Russia, without even giving the date. According to him:
    The higher classes... contemptuous of the old Slavonic religious rituals and Slavonic shamans...began to acquire, along with Greek silk cloth and jewels, also Greek rituals and Greek shamans, i.e. priests.
    The rehabilitation of the conversion of Russia as a cultural event in the official soviet historiography came in 1937 when the historian S. Bakhrushin condemned not only Pokrovsoky but also the whole historiographic school of economic materialism, including the official Soviet church historians N. M. Nikol'sky, N. A. Rozkohov and others, for failing to see the positive cultural contribution of Christianity to Russia, owing to their 'non Marxist' primitively materialistic dogmatism Deservedly he accuses them of a nihilistic attitude to culture and to the role of the Church in history and national life. to satisfy the Marxists, he first enumerates the material benefits that came from the adoption of Christianity from Byzantium. For instance the fasts that came along with the Church necessitated the introduction into and cultivation in Russia of all sorts of vegetables from Greece, including cucumbers, melons, beetroot, beans. Such arts and crafts as masonry, making of bricks, cement, architecture, to name but a few, likewise came from Byzantium; not to mention visual art (iconography) and literature.
  • Religious belief and the Churches have survived in the Soviet Union in the face of almost seventy years of continuous persecution, unprecedented in history in intensity, although varying in degree and thrust, depending on the external and internal circumstances. According to approximate calculations, given in our book on the history of the Russian Orthodox Church under the Soviets, the toll of Orthodox clergy has been in the region of 40 000 priests, probably as many monks and nuns, and incalculable millions of lay believers. The number of functioning Orthodox churches has been reduced from over 60 000 (this includes parish and monastic churches and institutional chapels) before the revolution to less than 7000 in the late 1970s.
  • In contrast to the multireligious scene in North America and to the supranational character of the Roman Church in the traditionally Roman Catholic nations of western Europe, Orthodoxy (using the vernacular and possessing no extra-territorial centralized Church administration) is not only a religion but a way of life, the very cultural matrix of the daily life in the countries where it has become the national Church. Russian literature, art, folk traditions, habits (where they survive) and attitudes have been formed or at least saturated by Orthodoxy from within. Therefore, the atheistic revolt of Marxist Bolshevism had to match Orthodoxy in its totality in order to crush it as the national way of life. Being only institutionally and ideologically antireligious as is Marxism in most other East European states, to allow a broader scope of religious toleration than in the USSR (in all cases except Albania) would not be effective. The attack had to be so total as to shatter the entire national culture in all its aspects. Hence the attempts of contemporary Russian nationalists to reconstruct Russian culture, Russian art, literature, inevitably brings a revival of Orthodoxy, of elements of Orthodox culture. That is why Orthodoxy is so essential to any study of Russian nationalism.

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