In every instance when the Church has been assailed by one or another heresy, we find that many people are fooled by the heresy without actually understanding what is happening. Heresy is always presented as the truth and in this way many are misled.

-- Metropolitan Ephraim, Holy Orthodox Church in North America, 2001

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How the Record Was Distorted

Here is an illustration of how the record concerning name-worshipping (also known as imyaslavie or imiaslavie), was distorted by political opponents of the Orthodox Church in Russia.  First, we give the account of Archbishop Nikon (Rozhdestvensky).  He was sent to Mt. Athos by Tsar Nicholas II in 1913 to quell the rebellion of the name-worshippers (imyaslavtsy), the monks in the Russian monasteries on the Holy Mountain who had fallen prey to the heresy of name-worshipping.  Then we give an account of the same event from the radical press.

Account of Archbishop Nikon
Denouncing the false teaching, I appealed to their common sense, pointing out that their teacher Bulatovich considers any word of God to be God, but indeed in the word of God, in the Holy Scriptures, many words are words of men; for example, the words of the fool, "There is no God." Holy Scripture mentions the creatures of God, for instance, worms: what then? Is this all God? Likewise, all the names of God as words only designate God, refer to him, but by themselves still are not God: the name "Jesus" is not God, the name "Christ" is not God. At these words … were heard shouts: "Heretic! He teaches that Christ isn't God! There is no God!” I continued my speech, but as the leaders of the rebellion continued to make a lot of noise, then S.V. Troitksy turned to those who were standing near and said, “Vladyka says only that the name Christ is not God, but Christ Himself is our true God. … They shouted at me, “Heretic! Crocodile from the sea! Seven-headed snake! Wolf in sheep's cloth­ing!" In conclusion I managed to say: “Be honest! Hear me out: you can read all the places that we have quoted from the Holy Fathers in your library: come, we will show them to you there!< Whoever knows Greek, we’ll find them in the Greek original." After this, I left the church through the altar.
From the report of Archbishop Nikon (Rozhdestvensky) to the Holy Synod, summer 1913. Archbishop Nikon graduated from seminary first in his class, but preferring a monastic life to an ecclesiastical career, he declined further study. He became a monk first at New Jerusalem Monastery, then at St. Sergius Lavra. His spiritual father in both places was the abbot,Archimandrite Leonid Kavelin, beloved disciple of the Optina Elder Macarius. As a young monk, with the blessing of St. Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, he began publishing a series of leaflets on the Orthodox faith. Over a period of 25 years, more than 100 million of them were distributed. Fr. Nikon came to public attention in 1885, when his book, The Life and Struggles of St. Sergius, Abbot of Radonezh, was published. He was raised to the rank of archimandrite. In March of 1904, he was consecrated to the episcopate and soon afterward was appointed rector of the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. During the workers’ strikes in Moscow in 1905, he delivered a sermon against the strikes. It was read aloud in the all the churches of the capital, and on the next day the workers began to return to work. In 1913, Tsar Nicholas himself asked Archbishop Nikon to go to Mt. Athos to stop the rebellion of the imyaslavtsy.

Account from the Radical Press
“You,” said the archbishop, shaking his staff, “consider every name to be God. So I tell you that any name of God is not God. The name of a worm is only ‘worm’, and you, for heaven’s sake, say, ‘even a worm is God.’ The Son is less than the Father Jesus Himself said that ‘the Father is greater than I. You say that Christ is God.” Professor Troitsky interrupted Nikon: “Vladyka, Christ is God! And in the dismissal it is said, ‘Christ our true God.’” But Vladyka Nikon, pounding on the floor with his staff, shouted, “Don’t anyone dare to contradict me! England and France believe as I am saying.” The outraged monks are not given a chance to contradict him. To the comment that if the name God is not God, then the words of the Psalter, “Praise the name of the Lord, praise (Him) all ye servants of the Lord” should be pronounced “Praise the Lord God,” Vladyka in the heat of the moment answered, “Yes, that’s how it should be!” – “Then all the books need to be rewritten,” a monk commented.. “And we will rewrite them with time! We will rewrite all the books!” Vladyka announced. Need it be said, that after these words the church was ovewhelmed with a storm of outrage, and the archbishop had to hide in the altar.
Article from Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word), the newspaper of publishing mogul I.D. Sytin, who was an open critic of the imperial government and the Russian Orthodox Church and who printed radical anti-government propaganda and anti-Church propaganda, including his friend Lev Tolstoy’s attacks against the Church. Tsar Nicholas’s government regarded his printing shop as a “wasp’s nest.” After the Revolution, Sytin acted as an advisor to the Bolshevik government and in return received a hefty pension.