Friday, June 17, 2016

A word to the modernists. From Abp. Theophan of Poltava.

From the blog Orthodox Pueblo, a post entitled "Who will be left?" I've made little secret over the years that I think the idea of "modernizing" the Church to be more "relevant" is a bad idea. Actually, rarely is it about presenting the Church in a new way. It's almost always about changing the Church to accept something you want to do.

In essence: I won't be transformed. It is the Church that should do so.

So it is that this Council has knocked loose a few journalists, scholars, and social activists who want to bring us into modernity. Seizing upon all the attention turned towards Crete they use this time to peddle their wares. Will all that foot traffic some people even buy it just as they do at Christmas and Pascha. May Abp. Theophan's words guide us.

"Memorable also was the moment when Archbishop Theophan met with a group of clergy of the 'living church' trend and some liberal professors at the Moscow All Russian Council in 1917-1918. Between adherents of the Church order of Holy Russia and the modernist clerics the dispute never died out during the whole time of work on the Council as to whether one should conduct church life by the old course or make concessions to the spirit of the times and modernize church life.

And here the modernists politely, respectfully came to Archbishop Theophan; apparently even they felt in him a spiritual giant of Orthodoxy … 'We respect you, Vladika, we know your church wisdom … But the waves of the times flow swiftly, changing everything, changing us; one must give in to them. You, too, must give in, Vladika, to the raging waves... Otherwise with whom will you be left? You will be left alone." And Vladika Theophan's answer, in the age-old Orthodox spirit, was:

'With whom will I be left?'

'I will be with St. Vladimir the Enlightener of Russia. With Sts. Anthony and Theodosius the Wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves, with the holy Hierarchs and Wonderworkers of Moscow. With Sts. Sergius and Seraphim and with all the holy martyrs, God-pleasing monks and wonderworkers who have gloriously shone forth on Russian soil.'

But you, dear brothers, with whom will you be left if even with your great numbers you give over to the will of the waves of the times? They have already carried you to the flabbiness of Kerensky*, and soon they will carry you under the yoke of the brutal Lenin, into the claws of the red beast.' The church modernists left Vladika in silence after his reply." (The Orthodox Word, Sept.-Oct., 1969, p. 195.)

* Alexander Kerensky was a leader in the Provisional Government after the overthrow of the Monarchy in Russia. The weak willed liberal Provisional Government essentially paved the way for the Bolshevik takeover.

1 comment:

  1. Originally misattributed to St. Theophan the Recluse by me. Fixed.