On the Theology of Priest Georgiy Kochetkov

Диакон Владимир Василик
Диакон Владимир Василик
As part of the discussion on the website Pravoslavie.ru concerning matters of church life, which has led to massive response from the Orthodox community, OrthoChristian.com has translated an article posted on Pravoslavie.ru by docent of the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University, doctoral candidate of Theology and Philosophy, Deacon Vladimir Vasilik. This article includes an overview of the theological opinions of priest Georgiy Kochetkov.

The problem of the theological opinions of priest Georgiy Kochetkov has reached a peak following the latest scandal surrounding the sectarian activities of one of his followers, a priest of the Archangelsk diocese, John Privalov, who not only intentionally disrupts ecclesiastical peace and liturgical discipline in his own parish, but also separates his congregation from the Russian Orthodox Church, forbidding those under his care to have any communication with other priests or to make pilgrimages to monasteries.[1]

In connection with this, the question arises about Kochetkov’s own spiritual foundation, which upon investigation is found to be a collection of vulgar heresies. A number of our foremost theologians and pastors have already spoken and written about this many times.

1. The Christological heresy of priest Georgiy Kochetkov

For priest Georgiy Kochetkov, many aspects of the Gospel stories concerning the birth of Christ are “no more than late mythological tales” (Catechesis for Catechists—Go and Teach All Peoples [Moscow, 1999], 275, and later in that text), written in order to substantiate the originate divinity of Jesus. In fact, he says, more significant for Jesus was His Baptism in the Jordan, where “He received Divine power as a special calling to service and as a testimony from Heaven that He was ripe and ready, and that the time had come for His Service” (Ibid., 243). From that point on the Spirit “in its fullness” acted in Jesus (Ibid. 244). Apparently according to Kochetkov, the deification of Christ happens here—a sign that the Lord Jesus Christ is a God-chosen, righteous man, whom God gradually adopts as His Son and grants extraordinary qualities that transfer Him from an earthly existence to the heavenly. But this is the heresy of Nestorius, and earlier of Paul of Samosata, and even earlier, of the Gnostics, who for that very reason celebrated the Theophany with such solemnity. In their opinion, the Logos, or the Higher Christ, entered at that moment into Jesus. Our observations are confirmed by other texts from the Catechesis for Catechists: “‘The Second’ Theophany is originally in the Gospels; it is primary in it, but the ‘first’ is most likely derivative.” (Ibid., 226). Let’s look at another citation: “The second Theophany, fulfilling ‘all truth’, during the Baptism of the Lord, that first step of mature human freedom in Christ, was primary. In it is the fullness of Divinity in Jesus” (Ibid, 257). Nestoriussaid similar things, and he was condemned for them by the Third Ecumenical Council (431). It follows that Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov is guilty of Nestorian heresy, which is also obvious in his purely Nestorian view of the Most Holy Theotokos, who he repeatedly calls a “Chaste Woman”, one place being in his “Creed”. Here are some typical sayings of Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov: “Let us now look at the first stage of the earthly life of Jesus Christ—from the ‘prophetic’ Conception and Birth of Jesus mythologized by the Gospels up to His Baptism and Temptation in the desert” (Ibid, 225).

Thus, in his Catechesis, priest Kochetkov calls the “‘prophetic’ conception and birth of Christ” “mythologized by the Gospels” (Ibid, 225), and from this it would follow that the Catechesis of Fr. Georgiy contains a blasphemy against our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most Pure Mother, for which the author would necessarily fall under anathema according to the Third Ecumenical Council: “Whoever does not confess that the Virgin Mary is the Theotokos [Birth-giver of God], let him be anathema.” After all, according to Fr. Kochetkov the history of the Birth of Christ is just a mythological invention written later by the Gospel authors, Sts. Matthew and Luke. Then what really happened? In Fr. Kochetkov’s opinion, it was the natural birth of an ordinary man—Jesus, from Joseph and Mary. After all, priest Georgiy Kochetkov does not believe that our Most Holy Sovereign Lady is the Birth-giver of God; he does not believe that She conceived in her womb the Son of God from the Holy Spirit without a husband, in a manner beyond words. Here is what he says word for word:

“Thus, because Matthew in 1:18–25 unites the original Christian tradition concerning the birth of Jesus from Joseph with the belief in a physical virginity of this birth that is very close to the spirit of the Hellenistic era, as he later cites the scripture of the Prophet Isaiah: Behold, a virgin shall receive in her womb and give birth to a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel. We must note here, however, that this is not exactly what Isaiah said. Parthenos means ‘virgin’ in Greek (according to the Septuagint), while in the Hebrew text the word almah is used, which means, “young, unmarried woman, young girl, virgin,” that is, a broader concept. It is no accident that modern New Testament text specialists confirm that behind the canonical story told by St. Matthew there is possibly a more ancient story, the contents of which, of course, are quite conjectural to us. Nevertheless, there are also some very ancient Syrian versions of the text of St. Matthew, which allow us to suppose that there is a story with the role of Joseph’s paternity crossed out” (Ibid., 250).

These words are by no means original. They were written almost two millennia before Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov by the heretical Ebionites, who held Jesus to be no more than a Son of Man and no more than a Jewish prophet, which is a blasphemy against Christ and His Most Pure Mother. As we see it, Kochetkov by this falls even lower than the Moslems, who in any case revere Isu ibn Mariam as the Son of a Virgin. It is notable that at the question, “Can Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov be commemorated at the Proskimedia?” even the patient and very loving Archimandrite John Krestiankin replied, “No. He blasphemed the Mother of God.” Thus, due to his heresies, this priest who likes to divide everyone else into the either “full” or “not full” members of the Church is in fact—to put it lightly—in the position of an apostatized member. That is of course until he repents.

Here it can be added that the parishioners of the Moscow Novodevichy Monastery, where priest Georgiy Kochetkov now serves, comment that the only festal Liturgies (his followers almost never attend evening Vigil services the night before a feast) when people can pray in the church without the Kochetkovites’ obtrusive presence are those celebrated on feasts of the Theotokos. The Kochetkovites simply ignore those feasts.

2. The Anthropological heresy of Fr. Georgiy

“I talked a lot about fundamentalism as practical atheism and about how a conscious Christian basically must not believe in the theory of the immortality of the soul (Kifa, 2005, p. 4).

A scene from the 2001 remake of the film, The Planet of the Apes.
A scene from the 2001 remake of the film, The Planet of the Apes.
As the reposed Fr. Daniel Sisoyev said, for these words alone Fr. Georgiy deserved to be defrocked. After all, if this is true, then not only are the following words from the book of the Wisdom of Solomon: The righteous live forever, and in the Lord is their reward[2] terribly false, but also the words of the Apostle Paul: But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Heb. 12:22–23). From Fr. Kochetkov’s point of view, the Lord’s parable about the rich man and Lazarus is also false. In fact this passage does not allow for any other interpretation than one that reflects a belief in the immortality of the soul and swift punishment beyond the grave; for if this passage were talking about what happens only after the Last Judgment with the resurrection of the dead and supposed restoration of the human soul, then the rich man would hardly have asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his living relatives, because that would have been impossible.

Another anthropological heresy of Kochetkov is the supposition that the story of the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib is nothing other than a symbol of Adam’s copulation with a humanoid monkey, who became human after this (Catechesis for Catechists, p. 98).

Here is the conclusion of the theological commission on Fr. Kochetkov’s views: “In the catechesis of priest Georgiy Kochetkov it is stated that the first man was “androgynous”, that is, a being that was both male and female at the same time. Womankind, according to his views, has her origin in a human-like being that became human during a strange, ecstatic act of union with Adam.”[3]

The reposed Fr. Daniel Sisoyev called this saying of Kochetkov’s “monstrous delirium”. Truly, it would be hard to dream up something more insulting and blasphemous against God the Creator, and against our fore-father and mother Adam and Eve, whose memory we only recently commemorated, by the way.[4] Fr. Georgiy supposes that the existence of the human race began with… bestiality. By this he is not only committing a sin even lower than that of Ham (unlike Ham, he is lying) but he also exposes the nature of his own thoughts and feelings.

The Manichean and dualistic utterances of Fr. Georgiy in his Catechesis are typical: “In the beginning, the ‘earth was unsightly and empty’, for the world was everywhere ‘darkness over the abyss’. This means that the ‘earth’, that is, a certain ‘original core’ of the earth, or ‘egg of the world’, was not yet formed and not organized, not beautiful and not good, chaotic and undirected, static and not enlightened, not possessing time or space. ‘Darkness’ and ‘abyss’ are symbols of the bottomless darkness of the original matter of the world in and of itself; its absolute unorganization/chaos, entropy. But the world did not remain to exist by itself, the potentially anti-theistic horror of ‘darkness’ and ‘abyss’, ‘unsightliness and emptiness’ did not realize itself, for ‘the Spirit of God was upon the waters’” (Catechesis for Catechists, p. 38).

Not only does evil have a certain ontological status in Fr. Kochetkov’s teaching, but it is almost absolutely symmetrical and equal in power to good. Here is a very characteristic passage:

“‘Evil’ and ‘good’, which mirror each other (that is, the spirit of this world, including the spirit of historical man), can be understood thus: firstly, as a conditionally absolute Spirit of Evil in the world, that is, integral world Evil, Ancient Horror and the Snake, Chaos, the Dark Abyss, Emptiness, the Devil, Satan, the Evil One, the Iniquitous. There is the Father of Lies, the Spirit of Sin and Unrighteousness, and correspondingly, the absolute Spirit of Good and Beauty” (Ibid.).

But all this is, pure and simple, Gnosticism and Manichaeism, which Tertullian rebuked in his treatise, “Against Marcion”, and St. John Damascene in his “Dialogue against the Manacheans”. St. John Damascene refutes the supposition of a certain existential status of evil: “Perfect evil cannot be discovered in what exists, for the true and existing God and the cause of existence is not evil, nor is anything that has come into being, as it came into being, evil; but the cause of everything is good, and everything that comes from good is good. And everything existing was brought by it from non-existence into being, and everything is very beautiful and good (Gen. 1:31). Evil is nothing other than the loss and voluntary deprivation of what God has given to rational nature, just as poverty is the loss of riches.” According to St. John Damascene, any talk of a symmetry between Good and Evil is blasphemy, for we then enter into a world of absolute relativism, because if Good is not all-powerful and not all-victorious, then there is no difference between Good and Evil—there are only two relative powers that interact with each other. And the supreme judge and supposed god over them turns out to be… man himself.

Nevertheless, as the woeful practice of totalitarian sects shows us, the idea of the might of Evil and its equality to Good is quite convenient for the leaders of sects: it becomes much easier to get your members to obey you—you simply scare them with the terrible Spirit of World Evil on the one hand, and on the other hand you inculcate in them the proud conviction that they are the Sons of Good and Light, while all other people are living in Absolute Darkness. Let us note that the Qumran sect (Essenes) was based upon just such pretexts; its members proudly considered themselves Sons of Light and actively prepared themselves for the extermination of the Sons of Darkness throughout the world. But this does not bear the slightest resemblance to Orthodox Christianity, as the rite of the Triumph of Orthodoxy testifies by its anathema against all who confess dual powers over the world.

3. Ecclesiological heresy

1. Falsely reviling the absolute majority of baptisms and sacraments, and demands for either re-baptism or the “completion” of that sacrament. Here is what Fr. Kochetkov writes: “Nowadays, practically all baptisms, even those carried out by fully proper clergymen and godparents, need to be completed in one way or another… This primarily relates to basically always incomplete (imperfect) Baptisms of infants and children.”

Venerable archpastors and pastors, do not think that they will leave you in peace. In the opinion of Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov, you too must either be re-baptized, or have your baptism “completed”. “It would be good for those baptized long ago, and even living a normal religious life to ‘complete’ their sacrament of Enlightenment—even the ‘participating’ clergymen of all ranks and levels, including the higher levels, and maybe even their holinesses the patriarchs” (“Mysterious entry into Orthodox Catechism”, maitre en theologie dissertation, St. Serge Orthodox Institute, Paris [Moscow, 1998], 176 on.) Question: Who is to judge whether the baptism of one or another member of the Church is complete or not? Answer: Charismatics; those who have had their own Pentecost. That is, to put it simply, self-proclaimed prophets who are in a state of prelest (spiritual delusion).

2. The intention of replacing the canonical Church and canonical hierarchy with a family-community, which is supposed to become a mini-Local Church. Here is what priest Kochetkov writes: “In such a community, in direct connection with a Eucharistic gathering, all Church sacraments should be performed. Then the head of the community will be both the rector, and the head of the Local Church” (Orthodox Community No. 1, p. 32–33); “A family-community… is what is most desirable, the Church in its fullness” (Orthodox Community, p. 32). Here in black and white is set forth the following hidden thought: the “community” strives not only to become a parish, but a Local Church, so that it can conduct everything itself, including the consecration of bishops and Church Sacraments. It is all very logical: the “communities” are headed by “presbyters”, and Kochetkov provides these “presbyters”, thus obtaining the rank and honor of a “bishop”. Once that is all in place there is nothing to prevent these “family-communities” from becoming full-blooded Local Churches, performing all the sacraments [including ordination, which can only be performed by a canonical bishop.—Trans.]. Moreover no one even asks the existing Local Churches (for example, the Russian Orthodox Church), and the “community” simply ignores the existing apostolic hierarchy.

“Its only Head, under Whose “canonical” rule it is, is God Himself in Christ through the gift and gifts of the Holy Spirit.” (Orthodox community, p. 21). Well, how about that. No canonical control or accountability to anyone. Only full rights and freedom. It seems not even Luther was so deluded. All the canons are nullified, the traditions are done away with, and there are no external authorities. Fr. Georgiy is taking to an absurd extreme the theory of Fr. Nicholas Afanasiev, according to which the local Church-community with one bishop at the head is the Ecumenical Church as such, and thus needs no Patriarchates or Metropolitanates. Furthermore, this Kochetkov-style Church-family exists in principle outside of the state and society:

3. “Such a community cannot be internally bound in any way with a so-called Christian state and society; it can normally live, “bear fruit”, and do good works in any state and in any society” (Orthodox community, p. 21–22).

No obligations before the Church, or before the state and society.

But at the same time—total isolationism similar to that of the Jehovah’s witnesses, Moonies, and Scientologists. No ecclesiastical, state, or societal control whatsoever; and this makes it possible for them to embrace any heresy or spiritual perversion.

The author of this text is not alone in his conclusions. He is only agreeing with the results of the theological commission held in 2000, which included highly authoritative and deeply (as opposed to Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov) theologically educated people. Allow me to present a list of them:

Chairman of the commission: Archpriest Sergiy Pravdoliubov, master of Theology, professor of the Moscow Theological Academy. In 2001, Chairman of the Liturgics department of the Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute.

Members of the commission:

– Archpriest Maxim Kozlov, doctoral candidate of Theology, docent of the Moscow Theological Academy, currently vice chairman of the Educational Committee;

– Priest (now Archpriest) Boris Levshenko, docent and chairman of the dogmatic theology department of the Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute;

– Deacon (now Archpriest) Vladimir Shmaliy, doctoral candidate of Theology, teacher at the Moscow Theological Academy, in 2001, secretary of the Synodal Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate, currently vice chairman of the General Ecclesiastical Graduate Program;

– Peter Yurievich Malkov, doctoral candidate of Theology, teacher at the Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute.[5]

Nevertheless, the question arises: Why are there so many Kochetkovites, why do they have what seem to be excellent communities, why do they receive so much support from the world community and even from the U.S. State Department? The answer consists in the following: for now, anyway, they are needed by a post-industrial society (but not by the Church), a society that is apostate in its movement vector. After all, even the structure of the Kochetkov brotherhood is like a rigidly organized spiritual corporation with a distinct hierarchical structure. At the head of each “community” there is a “head of the family” (see Orthodox Community, p. 32), who is called a “presbyter”, there are distinctions between elder and younger brothers, “full” and “not full” members of the “family”. Finally, the “head” or “presbyter” of all the “families” have one head over them—Fr. Kochetkov, who thus takes on the natural function of a “bishop”, as the person at the head of a council of “presbyters”, and who calls together an annual “council” of his brotherhood. Within the community/families there reigns strict order and mutual supervision; it is sufficient to say that members who have gone through the “catechism”, and not only those, are required to keep journals not just of all their actions, but also of their thoughts. The members are forced to pay tithes and donations to provide all their leaders’ needs. Any contact with other Orthodox institutions is summarily cut off. All insubordination is punished by strict sanctions even to the point of excommunication, and then even harassment, which can also end in the psychiatric ward and forced treatment with anti-psychotic drugs until the victim is half dead, as happened with the unfortunate Fr. Mikhail Dubovitsky, who dared to serve as his ecclesiastical superiors blessed him to do.

We have before us a totalitarian society reminiscent of the dystopias of Aldous Huxley and Zamyatin; a quasi-Orthodox aquarium that is completely transparent. After all, many of our citizens who eagerly watch the television reality show House-2 actually like this sort of thing. No responsibility, no torment of being faced with moral choices, as often happens when one consults with true spiritual fathers such as the reposed Fr. Vasily Ermakov, who would often tell his spiritual children, “Think for yourself”. Fr. Georgiy, “our bishop” (as the Kochetkovites often call him), does the thinking for you. And certain modern inhabitants of this post-industrial society who are used to pressing buttons, and who themselves are used to being no more than cogs in the industrial or bureaucratic machinery, who are incapable of true freedom and real creativity, willingly agree to enter into this kind of spiritual slavery.

Second. Much of what Fr. Georgiy says is comprehendible to former materialists—Adam sinning with the monkey, for example. How easy it is to change without changing anything in yourself. Many modern consumers are offered a sort of “Orthodoxy ‘light’”, an ersatz Orthodox spirituality. And many eagerly swallow this surrogate out of spiritual laziness, lack of curiosity and discernment. Fr. Georgiy’s pseudo-rationalism, too often reminiscent of Tolstoy with the latter’s love for everything mystical and supernatural, and very close to the modern technocrat consciousness, which is filled with self-satisfaction and naïve sensuality, and considers real only what it can touch and feel. Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov preaches precisely in this vein. His Nestorianism is also understandable—after all, the Nestorian Yahshuah ha Nozri is much more understandable to our proud “educated class” than the authentic Jesus Christ—God Who suffered in the flesh. Lev Tolstoy also believed that Jesus was only a prophet, and disbelieved in His birth from a Virgin.

Third. Manichean stereotypes have become all too entrenched in modern consciousness. The stamp placed on the USSR by the American president Ronald Regan as an “evil empire” is one example. It is such a relief to feel that you are in a small spiritual “good empire”, to perceive yourself as a “Son of Light” and either hate or condescendingly pity everyone else outside of it, including the entire Russian Orthodox Church.

Fourth. In an atmosphere of contemporary priests’ perennial lack of time, and after encountering from them laziness, ineptitude, or even lack of desire to communicate with their flock, many are drawn to the atmosphere of a Kochetkovite community. Modern man so needs this constant communication (which gradually turns into a subtle form of control), and “love bombing”, which leads to psychological dependence. People only later (and yet by far not all of them) realize that this is just a veneer, and that the inner parts of this community have very little in common with Orthodoxy.

In conclusion we would like to recall the words of the reposed Patriarch Alexiy II about Kochetkov: “What satanic pride.” It is pride, or more precisely, the desire for absolute spiritual authority that led Kochetkov to such heresies and distortions. And his movement, which began as a covert rebellion against the lawful and grace-filled hierarchy, could potentially end up as the cruelest tyranny over Orthodox believers, who will either be forced into this totalitarian “family” and live in it like in an aquarium under the vigilant eyes of its head presbyters (as in a reality show), doing nothing without his approval; or they will become contemptible outcasts, or even end up in psychiatric wards, where tranquilizers will be forced on them until they are half dead.

Now I would like to address the followers of Fr. Georgiy Kochetkov:

Dear brothers and sisters! I can understand your feelings for a man who was your teacher in faith and helped bring you into the Church. The disaster lies in the fact that, unfortunately, Fr. Georgiy and his disciples have not withstood the temptation to replace Christ with themselves, and the Church with their communities. As a result, you have been, alas, given a distorted image of both Christ and the Church. Without losing your gratitude toward your first teacher, do not forget about Christ’s commandment: Do not call yourself teachers, for one is your Teacher, Christ (cf. Mt. 23); and in choosing between human teachings and Divine truth, we hope that you will decide in favor of Divine truth, the truth of the Church, which in the words of St. Vincent of Lerins, “is always, everywhere, and comes from everyone.” Abiding in the “community of the chosen” will lead you to a spiritual catastrophe, because it will not only incite pride: “I am not like other men”, but it will leave you alone with your leaders who are trying to manipulate you and deprive you of your God-given freedom.

Never has the call of the Third Ecumenical council been so relevant: “Let not the arrogance of worldly authority creep in under the guise of religious rites; and let us not little-by-little and imperceptibly lose that freedom our Lord Jesus Christ, the liberator of all human beings, has given us through His protection.”

This news from December 30, 2012 clarifies the author’s above reference to priest John Privalov.

Alexander Dvorkin: The The Kochetkovite movement needs to be given an unambiguous ecclesiastical evaluation

The publication of critical materials concerning the activities of the head priest of the Meeting of the Lord Church in the village of Zaostrovie, Primorsky region, Archangelsk province, Priest John Privalov, a follower of the well-known priest Georgiy Kochetkov, has evoked real hysteria the “Kochetkovite” camp, writes the website Orthodoxy in the Northern Lands. Calling for help from the loyal media on their generous payroll, the Kochetkovites began a slander campaign against the ruling bishop of Archangelsk diocese Metropolitan Daniel (Dorovsky) and the clergy and parishioners of Archangelsk parishes. They are using all means available to them: direct slander, personal insults, and threats. In their blogs they are declaring all out war against Metropolitan Daniel and do not hide their intention to get him removed from his cathedra no matter what it takes. Notably, Kochetkov’s followers are working along a united front with Scientologists, who have already filed suit against the Archangelsk diocese, and have tried to discredit the ruling hierarch in paid news articles.

We recall that Fr. John’s renovations led to a schism amongst the faithful—in fact all those parishioners who do not ascribe to the “Kochetkovite” teachings have been kicked out of the church. As a result, the local people have no church to attend in their own village, and the elderly and infirm who cannot freely travel to another parish are deprived of Divine Liturgy.

Professor Alexander Dvorkin, the president of the Russian association of centers for the study of religions and sects, chairman of the Expert Council for religious studies at the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, has commented on the situation in an interview with Orthodoxy in the Northern Lands.

“Judging from everything that is going on, the situation is pretty tense. Priest Georgiy Kochetkov has a certain theoretical stance, which his followers have begun to fanatically instill anywhere they can. In part, most under question of all the controversial ideas of priest Georgiy Kochetkov is his ecclesiological heresy—the teaching that the Church has a “synagogual synaxical structure”; that is, it is comprised of two unequal parts—the “full” and the “not full” members. The “full” members of the Church are the enlightened, true Christians, while the “not full” members are the benighted masses who merit no attention. In this manner the “Kochetkovites” consider themselves to be a sort of Church elite and “super Church”, or even perhaps the only correct and true Church. They apply every effort to ensure that this “lamp” illuminate that very benighted mass of simple, “unadvanced” people, choosing from amongst them those most worthy to enter this enlightened circle,” said Dvorkin.

In his words, all attempts to put such ideas into action at one or another parish inevitably bring division. There are the “advanced”, obedient flock, who hang on every word of the priest and “catechists” whom he has appointed, fulfilling their every command; and then there are all the rest of the parishioners who have no desire to be “enlightened”, do not listen, and for some reason become indignant about what is going on. “As a result, peace disappears, and the Church unity of people from every walk of life, every political viewpoint, and every cultural, educational, and economic level gathered around the Eucharistic Chalice is disrupted. The Church is one, but a very tough confrontation occurs with the Kochetkovites, and the further it goes on the more this happens. You might say that it is obvious who benefits from this, who is the most interested in bringing divisions into the Church. And what is bringing these divisions is obviously not from God,” continued the expert.

In Dvorkin’s words, the situation in Archangelsk is only part of a more serious problem having to do with Fr. Georgiy’s Kochetkov’s movement. “His followers are creating a certain parallel structure, and people are being drawn into it who may not wish this at all, but who do not have sufficient knowledge or spiritual experience to discern the truth from the lie, or good from bad quality spiritual experience. They might get involved in this teaching out of even the most noble convictions and become just as fanatical, serving, alas, not unity but division in the Church,” added Dvorkin.

He also emphasized that one important trait of totalitarian sects is spiritual elitism combined with a black-and-white perception of reality. “On one side there are us, our community, our movement, our organization, and on the other side are the ignorant, stupid, perishing, etc. subhuman people all around. This is a very characteristic feature of any sect, and it is also a feature of priest George Kochetkov’s community. I have talked about this before. Another distinct feature is guruism. All the members of the sect unconditionally obey their guru or leader. His words are the ultimate truth, which they accept without thinking. This again is quite characteristic of priest Georgiy Kochetkov’s movement. Then there is the “family” terminology. The sect begins to compete with the family, attempting to replace it with itself. Within the communities of priest Georgiy Kochetkov are groups that call themselves “families”, and these often do not coincide with the actual families; that is, the husband is in one “family” while the wife is in another. And so on—there are a quite a few signs of sectarianism in the Kotchetkov communities,” noted the expert on sects.

He likewise commented on the news that Fr. Georgiy’s followers have actively petitioned the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation with a request to exclude A. Dvorkin from the Council of Experts. This letter was published in their official resources. “I consider that that the initiators of this petition were Scientologists and neo-Pentecostals, and the Kochetkovites are supporting their initiative. This support itself is very characteristic, and it is appropriate in this case to say that a horse in known by its colors. What difference does it make to the Kochetkovites whether or not I am on the Council of Experts? The fact that they have shown such personal interest, and have even come out on the side of Scientologists… This is a kind of taboo. There are all kinds of organizations with varying views, but that you can’t have anything in common with Scientologists is something that I suppose every five-year-old child might know by now. That the community of priest Georgiy Kochetkov allows itself such collaboration is an indication of its “quality”, Dvorkin noted.

Dvorkin also pointed out that when the chairman of the legislative committee of the Russian association of centers for the study of religions and sects, Alexander Korelov, came to Archangelsk, one of the local bloggers who is loyal to the “Kochetkovites” wrote an open letter to the director of the Dobroliubov library requesting that they forbid the expert’s public lecture. Ten people signed the letter—six “Kochetkovites” and four Scientologists. This is an “interesting union”, Dvorkin noted.

“I cannot make decisions for the ruling hierarchs, but in any case there are very dangerous tendencies detectible in this movement, and I think that an unambiguous ecclesiastical evaluation should be given,” concluded Alexander Dvokin.

Deacon Vladimir Vasilik
Translation by OrthoChristian.com


[1] Alexander Dvorkin, “The Kochetkovite movement needs to be given an unambiguous ecclesiastical evaluation”, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/smi/58502.htm (Russian). See the translation of this December 2012 news at the end of this article.
Archpriest Evgeny Sokolov, “The community of Fr. John Privalov should repent of its heresy”, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/smi/58445.htm.
[2] From Wisdom 1:15. This is a translation from the Slavonic. In the English Septuagint, it reads: (For righteousness is immortal).
Wisdom chapter 2 not only refers to the immortality of the soul, but also outlines the reason why some deny it:
For the ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright, Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave… For our time is a very shadow that passeth away; and after our end there is no returning: for it is fast sealed, so that no man cometh again.
Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present: and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments… Let none of us go without his part of our voluptuousness…. Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged. Let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.
Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education. He professeth to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father.
Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected.
Such things they did imagine, and were deceived: for their own wickedness hath blinded them. As for the mysteries of God, they knew them not: neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness, nor discerned a reward for blameless souls.
For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it. Trans.
[3] http://apologet.in.ua/apologetika/psevdopravoslavnye-zabluzhdeniya/uchenie-georgiya-kochetkova/.
[4] The Holy Ancestors of Christ are commemorated two weeks before Christmas. This includes Adam and Eve.
[5] http://www.sektoved.ru/enciclopedia.php?cat_id=103.
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