On The Modern World
Archbishop Averky of the Holy Memory
We are living in a strange time, when all the true and healthy Christian
concepts are being replaced by false and deceitful concepts, discovered
often with an evil intention with the undoubted intention, naturally, of
drawing people away from the right path of a truly Christian life. In all
of this there can be discerned some kind of rationally acting black hand
which is working to bind people as tightly as possible to this temporary,
earthly life by forcing them to forget the future life, the eternal life
assuredly awaiting us all.
We must be clearly aware of the kind of time in which we live. Indeed, only
a spiritually blind man, or one who had already sold his soul to the
enemies of our holy faith and Church, could fail to sense the spirit of the
approaching Antichrist in every thing which is now happening in the world.
Of what sort of genuine union of all Christians in the spirit of Christian
love can one speak now when the Truth is denied by almost everyone, when
deceit is in control almost everywhere, when a genuinely spiritual life
among people who call themselves Christians has dried up and been replaced
by a carnal life, an animal life which has nonetheless been placed on a
pedestal and concealed by the idea of pretended charity which
hypocritically justifies any sort of spiritual excess, any sort of moral
anarchy. Indeed it is from this that are derived all these numberless
"balls," various kinds of "games," "dances" and amusements toward which,
despite their immoral, anti-Christian nature, ! even my modern clergymen
have a tolerant attitude, sometimes even organizing diem themselves and
participating in them.
A terrible, unrelieved, hopeless unscrupulousness has taken possession of
many people. The true doctrine of the faith and the Church for which the
first Christians died in such tortures has become a hollow sound for the
majority of modern "Christians." They neither know this doctrine, nor do
they desire to know it, for they are indifferent to it. Dull, cold
indifference to almost anything which bears the imprint of ideological
content and seeking in every thing only one's own personal advantage this
is the character of our time. This lack of ideological content, this
unscrupulousness accompanied by departure from the true faith and the
Church and by indifference to them is the basic, fundamental sin of which
we, Russian Orthodox Christians, must repent. It is not for us to enjoy
ourselves, to amuse ourselves, to dance on the grave of Russia, brought
down to its deathbed by us, but rather to repent in tears, really to
repent, as the Holy Church teaches us, with a firm intent! ion to change
our life radically, to renew our spirit.
As salt preserves food from decay and makes it healthful and pleasant to
the taste, so too true Christians preserve the world from moral decay and
facilitate its return to health.
But if the salt "loses its savor," as the Gospel says, i.e. "loses its
strength" (in the East there actually is a kind of salt which can lose its
taste), then it becomes good for nothing except to be "thrown out to be
trodden under foot of men" (cf. the Gospel reading for the third day of the
feast of Pentecost Matt. 5:313).
How terrible this is! And we find ourselves living in such times when the
tendency dominating the world is directed toward making all Christians such
"salt which has lost its savor," once it has abolished the true Church of
Christ derived from the Holy Apostles and thus has deprived Christians of
the grace of the Holy Spirit.
This is the so very fashionable, so-called "ecumenical movement," which is
based tin the position that supposedly the true Church of Christ does not
presently exist on earth and it is necessary to create it anew...through
the unification of all Christians belonging to various "churches" and
confessional associations and organizations; this will be done by various
mutual concessions in matters of doctrine and the development of a new,
common system of doctrine acceptable to all and, along with it, of course,
a new world view.
And the opinion, extremely popular in our times, that "it's all the same
which church you go to; after all, God is one" is in agreement with this
Yes! God is one, but, you know, He also gave us one faith; He created one
Church for us, not many different faiths and "churches." This is confirmed
by the holy Apostle Paul when he says, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all," and so we Christians should form "one body and
one spirit," as we are called to "in one hope of our calling" (Eph. 4:4-6).
If there is only one true faith and only one true Church, then as a
consequence all other faiths and "churches" are false, not true.
How then can anyone say that all faiths and "churches" are of equal value
and that "it is all the same which church you go to."
Therefore one can and must speak not of the ecumenical unification of
everyone for the creation of some new Church, but only of the restoration
of union between all who have fallen away and the one true Church of Christ
to which Christ the Savior Himself gave the great and sure promise that
"the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).
Oh, how great now is the dulling of conscience even of those people who
consider themselves believers the clouding of their minds and hearts, so
that seeing, they do not see, and hearing, they do not hear, neither do
they understand with their heart, as the holy prophet said (Isaiah 9:10).
This is the "hardening of hearts" of which he spoke. But there is in our
days an even more terrible phenomenon, encountered more and more often: a
more or less conscious decision, for the sake of earthly goods and
advantages, to serve the coming Antichrist. This is the most extreme degree
of falling away, from which it is very difficult to arise.
The fundamental task of the servants of the coming Antichrist is to destroy
the old worldwith all its former concepts and "prejudices" in order to
built in its place a new world suitable for receiving its approaching "new
owner" who will take the place of Christ for people and give them on earth
that which Christ did not give them .... One must be completely blind
spiritually, completely alien to true Christianity not to understand all
Zeal for God, zeal for the Truth is not "phariseeism," just as "humility"
before the enemies. of God, the enemies of the Church, before diabolical
Evil, is not the true and saving humility of the Publican, but just
destructive self-deception, leading to the depths of hell. In our times,
when there are such strong doubts about even the existence of Truth, when
every "truth" is considered relative and it is considered proper for each
person to hold to "his own truth," the struggle for the Truth acquires a
particularly important meaning. And the person who does not sympathize with
this struggle, who sees in it only a manifestation of "phariseeism" and
suggests "humbling oneself" before Falsehood by falling away from the
Truth, should naturally be recognized as a betrayer of the Truth, whoever
he might be, whatever he might call or consider himself.
For us modern Christians faith, for the most part, is being divorced from
life: we do not live in full agreement with the teachings and demands of
our faith. Our faith so clearly and so definitely teaches us to renounce
everything corruptible and earthly and to concentrate with all our thoughts
and feelings on the incorruptible eternal life awaiting us. Theoretically,
perhaps, we accept this (although of late there has appeared a special
current of "neo-Christianity" which does not even want to accept this
theoretically, but has thought up a completely new, heretofore unknown
pseudo-Christian world view aimed at binding man more firmly to an earth
which supposedly has been transfigured and sanctified by Christ's coming
into the world), we admit the end of the world, the Second Coming of
Christ, the Last Judgment, and the future life, but in practice we live and
act as if none of this is to be expected and we have only to make ourselves
comfortable here on earth by providing! for ourselves all sorts of good
things and conveniences. We do not really want to think about the death
which unavoidably awaits every one of us and we do not prepare ourselves as
we ought for the future eternal life before us.
Peace!.. peace!.. peace!.. is heard now from every side: "mutual
disarmament!..peaceful coexistence!.. we shall struggle for peace!..
everyone in defense of peace!.."
How wonderful it would be, what a bright and joyful future it would promise
for mankind if only these appeals had in mind that peace of which the
angels sang on the night of Christ's Birth: "glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will to men!" (Luke 2:14); if only it were that
peace which the Savior Christ promised to His disciples at the Last Supper
when He said, "My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you" (John
14:27); if only it were that "peace of God which passeth all understanding"
(Phil. 4:7) which, at the Lord's command, the Apostles transmitted to the
first Christians, which they were taught to seek (I Peter 3:11), and which
they were encouraged to have with God and with all people (Rom. 5:1;
12:18). How gratifying it would be to hear them if these appeals came from
people of whose sincerity we could not have the slightest doubt, whose
words we could trust completely from people who were really convinced that
the highest good in life is pre! cisely that peace with God, peace with
one's own conscience, and peace with one's neighbors in the name Of God.
But alas! It is not of such peace that people are talking now.
All these frequently unnatural and pompous speeches and at times hysterical
cries for peace for the whole world come at the present time for the most
part from people who are either far from true Christianity or are directly
opposed to the Church from people who do not live at peace with God and
with their own consciences, but are filled with spite in their relations
with their neighbors.
Can we believe in the sincerity of speeches about peace when they are
pronounced by people who in principle deny faith in God and love for their
neighbors and do not recognize the voice of conscience?
Can we believe that people are really working toward peace when with open
and bold blasphemy they have declared war on God Himself and His Holy
When quite recently they did not hide the fact that their aim was to "stir
up a worldwide conflagration"? When they openly preach "class hatred" as
the basis of their ideology and are not in the least ashamed to pour out
whole oceans of blood and to exterminate millions of people just for the
suspicion that they disagree with their ideology?
Can we likewise believe in the sincere love for peace of those who in their
words unctuously and cloyingly preach "Christian love" and "total
forgiveness," while in their actions they sow disturbances and discord and,
by spreading lies and slander, create hostility and divisions, stirring
people up against their neighbors?
Can one in general believe that any sort of secure and reliable peace can
be established on earth with the crude flouting of God's Truth, with the
lies and hypocrisy which are so clearly characteristic of the life of
Where the Truth of God is lacking there cannot be genuine peace.
While struggling resolutely against the most minute manifestations of evil
and sin in our own souls, let us not fear to uncover and point out evil
everywhere where it is to be found in modern life not from pride and
self-love, but only out of love for the truth. Our chief task. in this evil
time of lying shamelessness is to remain totally faithful and devoted to
the genuine truth of the Gospel and to the author of our salvation, Christ,
the Giver of life Who rose on the third day from the tomb, the Conqueror of
hell and death.
One must know well and remember that Tolstoy's harmful doctrine of
"non-resistance to evil" is completely foreign to true Christianity (by the
way, this doctrine destroyed our unfortunate homeland, Russia, and plunged
it into the terrible, bloody horrors of Bolshevism): no true Christian can
be reconciled to evil, wherever and in whomever he might encounter it.
All true Christians throughout the whole history of the Church have
followed the example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and His Holy Apostles
and have always condemned evil and struggled against it, even though this
might cause them all sorts of severe deprivations and even cost them life