October 15, 2022

Updated: Oct 18

Theology Part 2. (Part 1). Confession of a Protestant. As much as I enjoy Russia's defiance in the face of Western Neoliberalism, their involvement in the traditionalists stance in the cultural battle against wokeness, and siding with sovereignty against open society/totalitarian forces, there is a long unreconciled history between Eastern Orthodoxy [eg. Constantinople, Greek, and Russian Orthodox Churches (ROC)] and Western Churches [e.g. Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and Protestant].

Constitutionalists, Traditionalists, and Sovereigntist in the United State of America (or other Western nations) may do more harm than good within the US itself, let alone in foreign affairs, without having some sense of these rich, extremely personal spiritual matters. Traditionalists may agree politically worldwide, eg. leave local cultures alone, but Christendom should not be neglected or ignored, especially if you are a Christian, and if you are not a Christian, inconsideration of other people lacks kindness, though I am not naïve in thinking beliefs and practices simply must co-exist without tensions.

First, the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) denominations are historically Byzantium (Erastian), so the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is overseen at the highest level not by the ROC's Patriarch but by the highest political office, which today is the President of Russia. The Greek Orthodox Church (GOC) is funded by the Greek government. I do not know to what extent the political intervenes in church matters in all EOC in their respective geopolitical spheres other than the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarch of Russia have contended against each other to be the highest EOC Patriarch, or what the EOC calls "the first amongst equals".

Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow

Secondly, because of this kind of oversight the political concerns hold a firm influence on the ROC within Russia's political boundaries and have some sway over all ROC planted worldwide. This tight union between the ROC and Russia's government fosters a centuries old perspective on Western Churches being "Western" or not Russian; so, for example, in Belarus and Russia Protestant Churches are underground and have been periodically persecuted as they are perceived to be Western sources of subversion to Russia and Belarus not solely religiously but politically. It is understandable as the West has historically attacked these cultures over the centuries and calls and attempts for regime change by the West in these lands give reality to their concerns. Religion and politics in Russia and similar nations are intimately united. There is a historic consensus on all sides as to what contributed to the division.

Language: Latin v. Greek had a tremendous effect on the drift between EOC and Western Churches. There are two tables of the law in the Ten Commandments. According to Protestants, Commandments 1-4 are the first table that Christ summarized by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 ("love the LORD your God...") and called the "first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:37). The second table are commandments 5-10 that Christ summarized by quoting Leviticus 19:18 ("love your neighbor"). The second table involves fellowship, communication, friendly warmth of brotherly heart, and other thought, word, and deed practices conducive to love your neighbor. Language barriers, even at their most crude, make communication difficult. Heavenly matters written in the Bible are sophistications beyond man's most fantastic art and thoughts, for those rich Words in the Bible inscribe the very wisdom and beauty of God. A precise understanding and use of language is necessary to accurately communicate even amongst a people who speak the same language let alone different languages. Long story short, the two regional churches lacked the necessary communication to understand each other's maturation in Christ over time. For example, Tertullian (d. AD 220) is known for laying the foundation and precedence for Western churches to make use of Latin instead of the Greek language in church. At some point, even the language became sacred in worship depending on the region which for Western churches meant only Latin was used for centuries even in lands with other vernaculars (local languages), which still continues today in some Roman Catholic Churches. Between Eastern and Western churches a nearly thousand year drift from the time of the apostles early on due to language and later politics snowballed and effected beliefs and practices in the church culminating to the 1054 Great Schism when Western and Eastern churches excommunicated each other. In other words, each viewed the other as no longer Christian.

Proverbs 4:2, "For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law."

Luke 1:4, "...that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed."

1 Timothy 6:3, "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing..."

2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Titus 2:1, "But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine."

2 John 1:9, "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son."

Christian doctrine refers to the various topics and practices in the Bible, including who God is and what God did (Doctrine of God). The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) both lack the practice Jesus and the Apostle's taught and can be read about in the Bible eventually called by Augustine of Hippo (d. AD 430): Doctrine of the Invisible Church (IC) (defined below). Of course these churches don't believe Jesus taught IC, so it is not a simple argument involving the citation of Scripture; all churches have the same Bible and have read the Bible. The Western Church taught and practiced Augustine's Doctrine of IC and Doctrine of Grace (DG), but overtime only some local Western churches continued to do so and by the early 16th Century the Western churches who still taught and practiced IC and DG were called Protestant Churches.

The doctrine of the invisible church (IC) in short:

The universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered under Christ.

The doctrine of the visible church (VC) in short:

The church under the gospel consisting of all those throughout the world who profess the true Christian religion and who gather at any given geographical location where the ministry and ordinances of God are given.

Another, unsophisticated way of describing the invisible church (meaning there is more to it) are all true Christian believers, but since God only knows the heart of man, then only God truly knows who the true believers are. God does give instructions in the Bible on some beliefs and practices true believers would never do, so if those people do not repent, God instructs His Church to not allow those people to worship in the Church until they do repent.

An unsophisticated way of describing the visible church is all Christian believers (invisible church and in name only Christians, like political RINO's) worship God typically in a visible building with each other at a visible geographical location by listening to a visible preacher preach the gospel out of the visible Bible alongside participating together in led prayer, congregational singing, and elder ministering of the sacraments (Baptism and Lord's Supper) on the Lord's Day.

For now on, when I mention ROC (Russian Orthodox Church) I also mean EOC (Eastern Orthodox Church) unless noted otherwise. The same goes for the RCC on this topic, but for the purposes of this post, I am only referring to the ROC unless also otherwise noted. Now, here is where I, as a Protestant, differ greatly from the ROC. Since the ROC lacks a IC, it views it's visible church as the only Church. There is no Christianity, no believer of Christ, outside the ROC. According to the ROC, a person has to be a member of a ROC to be a Christian.

(Protestant Church, Scotland)

Because there is no IC in the ROC belief and practice, the true Christian religion only happens in the visible ROC (same for RCC). Most historic Protestant Churches do not adhere to a VC only, but follow Christ's teaching in the Bible about a IC, also. Since spiritual matters are invisible, a person may be in a visible church but not really have faith but nobody would know because faith is invisible. The person may be a very good, moral person but without repentance and faith in Christ, that person is not a Christian. Consistently, in most Protestant Churches, the Biblical understanding is there are no political, geographical, or denominational barriers blocking Christians from being understood as Christians. The Biblical invisible church combined with a Biblical visible church means a Christian is able to exist within any political border, at any geographical location, and in any Biblical church denomination (which includes non-denominational churches, which are in fact denominations but that is a discussion for another time). There is room in Protestantism for the possibility of a Christian to exist in the ROC (and RCC) but not vice versa; there is no room for a Protestant to be considered a Christian in the ROC (and RCC).

Lastly, I understand Russia is probably not out to make churches everywhere Russian Orthodox by the use of the political sword, because Russia is tolerant within it's Federation of various religions (Islam, Buddhism, etc.) due to other historic circumstances. Therefore, some room for Russia's magisterial tolerance for other churches holds vague precedence, though since Russia is Byzantium (Russia gov't, specifically the President of Russia, has direct access in church matters) how a non-Byzantium Protestant church could exist in Russia without Byzantium oversight is unknown to me. Can you imagine a US President having direct access in any US church telling the church what to believe and how to practice? That is Byzantium (or Erastian). All of these matters are related to the 1054 Great Schism.

Western Unipolar Hegemony against Multipolar efforts are merely physically manifest on the battlefield in Ukraine, Western sanctions against Russia, and all that money and weapons the US Congress and President keep sending to Kiev. Yet, the Polarity clashes are broader than physical manifestations. There are worldwide cultural suspicions, further add the historical antagonisms, and sides on some issues are not as straightforwardly delineated as one may suppose as current events continue to ragingly complicate matters. (Part 1)

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