Written by Vladimir Moss



     At some time in the 1980s a high-ranking member of the Russian Church Abroad was asked: “Does the Moscow Patriarchate have the grace of sacraments?” The reply was: “In the beginning – no. But God so loves the Russian people that in time, gradually, grace returned to it.”

     This reply reflects the mind-set of many Russian True Orthodox today, whether they consciously formulate the matter in this way or not. The consensus of the Holy Martyrs of Russia is sacred to our Church, so nobody dares to gainsay that consensus – which was that the Moscow Patriarchate has no grace. Nevertheless, many in fact still think that the MP has grace – and are prepared to break communion with the Russian True Orthodox Church on the basis, not only that the Holy New Martyrs were wrong, but also that the several recent conciliar decisions from the time of St. Philaret of New York onwards (in 1983, 1998, 2001, 2008 and 2016) which confirmed the judgement of the New Martyrs were also wrong.

     However, there is another way that the rebels can justify themselves while supposedly remaining loyal to the confession of faith of the Martyrs. They could say, imitating the ROCOR member quoted above: “The New Martyrs were right – in their time the Moscow Patriarchate had no grace. But God so loves the Russian people that in time, gradually, grace returned to it, and so we are now right in affirming that there are true sacraments in the Moscow Patriarchate.” 

     Several questions arise in relation to this “confession”. First, how can grace return to a church gradually? Is it not the case that at any given moment in any given church, the Holy Spirit descends on the bread and wine during the liturgy and transforms them into the Body and Blood of Christ – or He does not descend at all?

     Secondly, why should the Russian people be so privileged and so holy that their false church, which bowed down to the Antichrist, can become true just like that – without repentance, without seeking union with the True Church, without any change for the better in this period, but with clear signs of having become much worse? St. John of Kronstadt certainly did not think this. Moreover, in 1905 he declared that it was perfectly possible for the whole of the Russian Church to fall away, following the example of ancient Local Churches like the Carthaginian.

     Thirdly, if this gradual change has taken place, why does not the MP acknowledge the fact? After all, if it is the True Church, it must have the grace of discerning where the Church is and is not, in time as well as space. Why, instead, does it consider that the MP throughout its history since Metropolitan Sergius has been the True Church, while the Catacomb Church and ROCOR have been schismatic and graceless?

     It is obvious that this theory – that a church can fall away from grace and truth, and then gradually, without offering repentance or anything of the sort, return to God – is false…

     Is time in any way relevant to our judgements concerning the MP? Yes, in one very important respect. As the false church falls deeper and deeper into heresy and apostasy (since 1961, for example, the MP has fallen into ecumenism as well as sergianism), and more and more saints who confess its falsehood are gathered into the Heavenly Granary, and more and more conciliar decisions of the True Church confirming its falsehood and gracelessness are made, there is less and less excuse for rejecting the judgement of the True Church and disobeying her decrees.

     There are some people who say that it was excusable to think that the MP has grace until its participation in the 1983 Vancouver General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, which resulted in ROCOR’s conciliar anathematization of the heresy of ecumenism, which struck both the MP and all the ecumenist “Orthodox”. Well, let us suppose that this is so. Surely the corollary of this argument is that after 1983 there is no such excuse…

     And since there is no excuse for holding this false belief – which is in fact a kind of ecumenism – God has shown his wrath against those who hold it in a frightening way – by driving them out of the Church. The first “chistka” (purge) came in 2000-2007, when two-thirds of ROCOR’s flock outside Russia announced their intention to join the MP, led by the KGB Agent “Patriarch” Alexis of Moscow, and then formally joined it. Then, last year, a group of clergy of the Omsk-Siberian diocese of RTOC broke communion with their lawful hierarch, Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk and Siberia, for publicly upholding the saving truth that the MP is outside the Church.

     Let us note another change that has taken place over time. Those who believe that the MP has grace no longer hide their false belief, but make a great show of it, and virtually accuse those who hold to the faith of the Holy New Martyrs of heresy. They proclaim that they supposedly experienced grace when they were in the MP, and expect us to place this experience of theirs higher than the judgement of the Holy New Martyrs and St. Philaret! Why, then, did they leave that supposedly grace-filled MP and join the True Church?! And now they want to leave the truly grace-filled haven of the True Church and go – where?

     A famous man once said that when the facts change, he changes his judgements – but not otherwise. The fundamental facts about the MP have not changed; nor has the judgement of the True Church. Therefore let us remain faithful to her to the end, remembering the words of St. Athanasius the Great: “We walk in step, not with the times, but with God”.


December 24 / January 6, 2016.

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