Greco-Protestantism

Martin Luther and the heroes of the Reformation Martin Luther and the heroes of the Reformation
    

The threat of secular reformation is hanging over Orthodoxy. We have written about this more than once, but just a few years ago we could not have supposed that through the efforts of the Constantinople Patriarchate this threat would take on a completely new form, the form of Greco-Protestantism,1 about which we will speak more particularly below.

The Russian Orthodox Church is at the moment not being accused of servility and phytelitsm,2 since against the background of the Ukrainian government’s interference in church life such accusations simply pale. Nevertheless, the general traits of many statements now coming from ideologists of religious reformation are the same as before—proposals to reorganize the entire church structure. Moreover the Church’s many centuries of conciliar experience and rule by canon law is being edited out, without so much as a parenthetical reference.

It is quite explainable that the reaction to these new challenges is not only the sobering up and concentration of the healthy majority in the Church, but also a vigorous reanimation among the liberal Orthodox subculture, which always correlates precisely with external political events. The church liberals’ initiatives are in submission to one goal—the direct or indirect support of the Constantinople Patriarchate in its efforts to transform Orthodoxy into a kind of post-modern ideology.

Today this is one of the most interesting questions: Against the background of the watershed events of a new schism, how is liberal-Orthodox thought developing inside Russia? Telling in this sense is the compilation-article by Leonid Sevastianov, “Orthodox Blockchain” (published autumn 2018), in which the author sums up the more frequently appearing ideas of liberal Orthodox society.

If we were to define the thesis of the article’s content, it would be the following: Orthodoxy should be built according to a general principle that is being obstructed by the ecclesiastical “vertical authority”. Sevastianov uses the term, “blockchain”, by which he tries to describe a “model of self-organization of society, which is not ruled from above but rather spreads responsibility and decision making among its members.” For those unfamiliar with the term, blockchain is what they call a public database with information on the transfer of money from one addressee to another. Every church community that belongs to the so-called Orthodox blockchain is, in the author’s mind, an independent Church, and all together they make up one Church, the center of which is continually moving around along a chain from one block to another. Sevastianov states with pleasure that this proposed model guarantees that schisms would be impossible. And that is true, because this model they are proposing is permanent schism. In fact this is what we have seen over the past four hundred years in Protestantism, where schism is a norm of existence.

The author further proposes introducing an elective episcopate as soon as possible, and reformatting the Church as a “confederation of free communities” (this term was coined by Stanislav Belkovsky ten years ago), inasmuch as the “center of spiritual life is not in the bishop, who is the same member of society as any layperson, but in the parishes, monasteries, and evangelical groups.”

Sevastianov doesn’t even mention the institution of patriarchy as an historical phenomenon, since for him it so obviously has no place in this model. The figure of the Patriarch is erased from Sevastianov’s imaginary picture of the ecclesiastical world. This is logical, because in the Protestant way of thinking the institution of patriarchy does not exist.

The alluring epithets, “confederation”, “self-sufficient spiritual centers”, and “blockchain” do not change the essence of this phenomenon. Looking at the example of modern Protestants it is very clear how a movement in this direction will end. The number of “churches” will multiply, each one with its own rules and isolated from the others. The parishioners’ freedom within such a community is often very limited. Meanwhile we see unlimited, arbitrary reformations of Christian dogma. Some Protestant movements are even demanding that people do away with the “totalitarian concept of sin”, or the “personality cult” of Christ.

Alexander Shchipkov Alexander Shchipkov
For the Orthodox ecclesiastical space, schism is a sickness that we simply cannot pronounce as the norm. In modern Orthodoxy, schism often arises in the form of a quasi-church, a structural imitation of churchliness according to the model of a “church” within the Church. Such a schism is often initiated from without, as in the case of the false “legitimatization” of the schismatic structures of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate” and the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Church”. The main initiators and profiteers of such processes are always secularist centers of power. If we were to liquidate the Church hierarchy, which is what Sevastianov and other representatives of the liberal Orthodox establishment are basically proposing, then its place will immediately be occupied by a certain political “vertical power” that will take advantage of the situation for the sake of its own interests, which is what we are seeing today in Ukraine.

The ideal church life for the liberal Orthodox is a state of slow-burning schism and chaos. Because the state of chaos-making in Orthodox space makes it easier to force a change in religious identity.

The liberal Orthodox in and of themselves are a particular form of inner schism. Essentially having already separated themselves from the Church, they are in no hurry to leave it. Their main aim is not to create their own space or their own community, but to corrupt another space, another community; to deprive others of this space who think differently from them. In other words, to clear out the Orthodox territory and Protestantize it, preserving the outward ritual form of Eastern Christianity. That is, to create a new type of “spiritual unia” with Protestantism—Greco-Protestantism. And as a battering ram they are using an infirm, weak-willed man—Patriarch Bartholomew (Archondinis).

The schism in Ukraine will inevitably hasten the formation of the Greco-Protestant ideology, and then there will be a push for the creation of an analogous structure in Russia. This is part of one whole process.

Therefore, today the theoreticians of liberal Orthodoxy are not only working out the concept of the liberalization (in other words, Protestantization) of Orthodoxy, but are already thinking about who will make it happen, and on what social strata they will rely. We can view the institution of “active parishioners” (derived from the idea of “active citizens” from the era of the Moscow revolution of 2012) as a platform for the final stage of the Church’s dechristianization and Protestantization.

In upcoming years, the Greco-Protestant doctrine will be studied and outlined in detail by theologians and philosophers. We are at the very beginning of this road, but as the author of this term, I will already now allow myself to distinguish the four main parts of it.

Rejection of apostolic succession. Patriarch Bartholomew has clearly demonstrated this by receiving into Church communion men having no canonical ordination. Apostolic succession becomes a matter of indifference to adherents of Greco-Protestantism, just as it became a matter of indifference to the Catholic monk Martin Luther in his day.

The “blockchain” structure of the church, organized, as the adherents of Greco-Protestantism assert, according to the principle of a “confederation of free community associations.” The Church will be forced to have elections of bishops, and then of clergy, who will turn it into a friable, amorphous medium without any spiritual unity, composed of a multitude of “denominations”, “wings”, “movements”, etc.

The renunciation of patriarchy for Local Churches with the temporary preservation of patriarchy in Constantinople itself, which will serve as the “motor” for these transformations—until the time comes.

Ethnophyletism. That is, structuring the Orthodox Churches along the lines of a national principle, and transferring their allegiance to their ethnocrats. There is an idea being propagated that every country should have its own national Orthodox Church.

The formation of Greco-Protestantism and transformation of the religious space will meet with resistance from the Church’s majority—the supporters of traditional Orthodoxy founded upon the following of canons and the principles of apostolic succession, and on the preservation of Church hierarchy. The hierarchy of the clergy is both a tradition and a symbol, and at the same time, the condition for preserving the Church.

The Church is an image of heaven on earth. That means that the Church hierarchy reflects the heavenly hierarchy, and Church conciliarity (“communality”) has its prototype in the indivisibility and freedom of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Church consists of many communities and forms the one Body of Christ, and freedom within the Church cannot exist without the hierarchy of clergy. Freedom and communality are not negated by hierarchy, but to the contrary are strengthened by it. In part, the hierarchy defends the church space from being swallowed up by external political powers, the “secular vertical”, and “secular Leviathans”.

At the moment we can observe how these power centers are applying repressive measures against the Apostolic Church in Ukraine. In order to stand up against similar repressions, the Church needs a hierarchy. Symbolism and tradition here go hand in hand with historical pragmatism.

It is on this very path that the Church will escape the apostasy connected with the sickness of Greco-Protestantism, and preserve and multiply is spiritual influence.

Alexander Shchipkov is a political philosopher, and first Vice Chairman of the Synodal department of the Russian Orthodox Church for Church interrelations with society and media.

Alexander Shchipkov
Translation by OrthoChristian.com

Parliament News

2/2/2019

1 This term is apparently mirroring the term Greco-Catholic, or Greek Catholic—the name often used for Uniates, or Byzantine Rite Catholics.—O.C.

2 At least in Russia.—O.C.

See also
The Heresy of Constantinople Papism The Heresy of Constantinople Papism
Priest George Maximov
The Heresy of Constantinople Papism The Heresy of Constantinople Papism
Priest George Maximov
The Orthodox of various countries are looking on in perplexity and horror as the primate of a respected Church suddenly proclaims as his own canonical territory what has for over 300 years been accepted by everyone without exception as part of another Local Church, and pronounces those whom the entire Orthodox Church has unanimously recognized as schismatics to be part of the canonical Church—at the same time threatening to pronounce as schismatics those who have been abiding in Eucharistic unity with all the Local Churches.
On the Future of Orthodoxy in Ukraine and in the World On the Future of Orthodoxy in Ukraine and in the World
Abp. Theodosy (Snigirev)
On the Future of Orthodoxy in Ukraine and in the World On the Future of Orthodoxy in Ukraine and in the World
A Conversation with Archbishop Theodosy (Snigirev)
Sergei Geruk, Archbishop Theodosy (Snigiryov) of Boyarka
And here are the proud speeches about racial superiority and religious exclusivity: “’O God, I thank Thee,’ and other foolish words…” The Patriarch says such things so openly and pretentiously that it’s even become frightful.
The Interference by the Phanar in the UOC-MP Affairs Divides and not Unites People in the Entire Orthodox World The Interference by the Phanar in the UOC-MP Affairs Divides and not Unites People in the Entire Orthodox World
Archpriest Seraphim Gan
The Interference by the Phanar in the UOC-MP Affairs Divides and not Unites People in the Entire Orthodox World The Interference by the Phanar in the UOC-MP Affairs Divides and not Unites People in the Entire Orthodox World
Archpriest Seraphim Gan
Why does the Phanar act so cautiously with Orthodox in America and yet acts in such an irresponsible way in Ukraine? What is the stand of the ROCOR on the policy of the Phanar in Ukraine?
Getting to the Essence. A Look at the Schism Through the Eyes of Professor Osipov Getting to the Essence. A Look at the Schism Through the Eyes of Professor Osipov
Professor Alexei Osipov
Getting to the Essence. A Look at the Schism Through the Eyes of Professor Osipov Getting to the Essence. A Look at the Schism Through the Eyes of Professor Osipov
Professor Alexei Osipov
The following is a translated transcript of a Spas (Savior) Orthodox TV channel special edition of their program, “Straight to the essence”. In these extremely disturbing times, people want to hear a familiar, trusted voice of experience and sound theology. Professor Osipov is that voice.
A Canonical Crisis in the Orthodox Church A Canonical Crisis in the Orthodox Church
Met. Jonah (Paffhausen)
A Canonical Crisis in the Orthodox Church A Canonical Crisis in the Orthodox Church
Primacy, Conciliarity and the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen)
The actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople (EP) in its process of granting a Tomos of autocephaly to the schismatic groups in Ukraine have created a canonical crisis.
Ecclesiology of the Schism: Historical Reflections Ecclesiology of the Schism: Historical Reflections
Priest Mikhail Ulanov
Ecclesiology of the Schism: Historical Reflections Ecclesiology of the Schism: Historical Reflections
Priest Mikhail Ulanov
This position fully explains the canonical nihilism of Constantinople. Since the canons do not provide opportunities for primacy, they are rejected.
The Profane and the Sacred The Profane and the Sacred
Fr. Nectarios Trevino
The Profane and the Sacred The Profane and the Sacred
Fr. Nectarios Trevino
The present crisis in the news did not begin today. Its roots began in the nineteenth century—if not earlier, continued into the twentieth century, and are maturing in the twenty-first century with a new fervor into an unprecedented form of authority and authenticity—perhaps trusting that God and His people are not looking.
A closer look at the Ecumenical Patriarch’s ecclesiology and its statements about itself A closer look at the Ecumenical Patriarch’s ecclesiology and its statements about itself
Anna Stickles
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Anna Stickles
The main problem is the claim of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that it is a source of order, life, orthodoxy…. whatever, for the rest of the Church. The claim seems to be that the Ecumenical Patriarch is somehow the essence and beginning of the Church in the way Adam is the beginning of the human race or the Father the source of the Trinity.
The Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople The Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople
St. John (Maximovtch) of Shanghai and San Francisco
The Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople The Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople
An overview written in 1938
St. John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco
The moral authority of the Patriarchs of Constantinople has likewise fallen very low in view of their extreme instability in ecclesiastical matters.
Comments
Anna Stickles2/4/2019 4:57 am
Protestanism and Papism are two sides of the same coin. What is common between the two is a way of dealing with the corruption that is based on self-will. The autocrat tries to get rid of corruption through the self-willed used of their autocratic authority, and the populists try to get rid of corruption through rebellions, agitations, and reformations. Neither understand the Orthodox Way wherein Christ calls us to bear the burden of corruption in faith, obedience and humility, instead of trying to fix it humanly. The Roman empire was Christianized through martyrdom, not political reformation.
Nun Irinea2/3/2019 9:46 pm
I see this interpretation of Constantinople's disease quite inaccurate, or rather completely wrong. For a much more accurate analysis, see Fr George Maximov, "The heresy of Constantinopolitan Papism" HTTP://ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM/118982.HTML
Editor2/2/2019 8:34 pm
Maria: We are sorry that you find this article divisive. We do not feel that way. The use of Greco- as you can see in the footnote and in the article is simply a mirror of the term, Greek Catholics, in other words, Uniates. Just as the Greek Catholics have nothing to do with Greeks, so Mr. Schipkov's term Greco-Protestantism has nothing to do with Greeks. As you can see also in the article, he is criticising mainly Russian liberals, and a Russian author. This is not a Russian vs. Greek rhetoric at all, but liberal vs. traditional. It is a prognosis that is applicable everywhere.
Jacob2/2/2019 8:22 pm
Dear Mr. Schipkov, welcome to American Orthodoxy! Apparently the liberals you talked about in your article have been spending time here. It's a condition we have to live with, but many of us would love to have the solidness of Orthodoxy that you have there. Be strong!
Maria2/2/2019 7:11 pm
John I am strongly against what is happening in the Ukraine and agree that this is the canonical territory of the MP. The point I was trying to make in my last comment might be irrelevant to you but it's a serious one because there exists a double standard. I also want to add that I find articles like these highly divisive. As a Greek Orthodox Christian (among the many who deplore the heresies of the EP including his ambitions to be the despot over all Orthodox), I am personally offended by this author's statements that promote polarizing Orthodoxy between Greeks and Slavs. Bartholomew does not represent Greek Orthodoxy.
Greg2/2/2019 5:55 pm
John and Maria: The author makes a good point about the "confederation of free community associations" as is evident here in the USA. A 'church plant' can spring up anywhere and at any time, but what I notice is the absence an 'apostolic foundation' in the leadership of that type of church structure. The more this is practiced, the more divided and weakened the true church of Orthodoxy will become. Every man becomes a god unto himself, without our being united to the One True God in the fullness of our Orthodox faith. The enemies favorite tactic on display - divide and conquer. Pray that we Orthodox Christians will hold to the purity and truth of our faith.
John2/2/2019 4:42 pm
Maria: So many readers suffer from dyslexia. That is the only way to explain why they don't get the point of articles, but still feel qualified to make rash comments on them. You have not heard of Greco-Protestantism because, as the author makes clear, he just coined the phrase. Note also that it is called that because it is similar to Greco-Catholicism, or Byzantine Rite. That is, it is an attempt to throw out the content of Orthodoxy but keep the outer form, as a deception to those who don't know the difference. And don't be so hasty to judge patriarchs and bishops who are defending their canonical territory from diabolical onslaughts, such as what's happening in Ukraine.
Maria2/2/2019 4:07 pm
The Church is not suffering from Greco-Protestantism a term I have never heard of before. Ecumenism is the real danger here and I am afraid that this author is diverting his audience from this fact by ignoring what is happpening in his own backyard. He will not even call it out because ALL Orthodox patriarchates are infected by this heresy by participating in it one way or another. What deceptive, diabolical times we live in! Patriarchs are concerned about are their territorial rights and status or who is going to be the first instead of defending Orthodoxy from the danger of ecumenism. There is no moral courage in bishops, clergy or even monastics to stand up for what is right anymore.
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